The California Arts Council is planning a statewide fund-raising campaign to aid Bay Area artists and arts organizations devastated by the Oct. 17 earthquake, the agency's executive director said late last week.
Replete with celebrity pitchmen, an 800 phone number for pledges and donation envelopes that will drop from programs into theatergoers' laps, the campaign aims to raise $550,000 needed by the San Francisco Arts Recovery Fund to qualify for a federal matching grant, said Robert H. Reid, Arts Council director.
In December, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded a $550,000 grant to help the Bay Area's artistic community recover from the earthquake, which damaged museums, theaters and studios from Marin County to Monterey. The agency stipulated that its grant be matched 3-to-1 by other contributions, to create a $2.2-million fund for artists. The fund has already received requests for four times the amount of available moneys, said the project's coordinator, Christine Elbel.
According to officials, however, the fund, which has collected $1.1 million from corporations and local governments in the Bay Area, is a half-million dollars short of meeting the matching grant. The Arts Recovery Fund has until January, 1991, to raise its share.
"I'll be honest with you, there's been a shortfall in fund-raising efforts," said Margie O'Driscoll, Mayor Art Agnos' cultural affairs liaison.
As the earthquake recedes into memory, said Reid, "the money up here is slowly drying up. That's why we want to involve the whole state in the project."
Forty percent of the Arts Recovery Fund is earmarked for the American Conservatory Theatre, whose home at the famed Geary Theatre near Union Square here suffered extensive damage in the earthquake. The conservatory was forced to relocate its production facilities and rent other theaters for its plays, adding an additional $1 million in expenses to the company's $2.5-million annual budget, said managing director John Sullivan.
The conservatory's share of the recovery fund can only be used for operating expenses, not for rebuilding the Geary Theatre, officials said. The conservatory is undertaking a separate campaign to raise the estimated $15 million needed to restore the Geary, Sullivan said.
Another 30% of the Arts Recovery Fund is slated for severely hit Santa Cruz County; the balance is to be allocated to artists and groups in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Solano counties.
Applicants for grants include well-known institutions such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Exploratorium, as well as smaller groups that were struggling even before the earthquake, Elbel said.
The statewide campaign, which is planned for March and April, will ask artists and organizations who have received arts council grants to help raise money for their Bay Area colleagues. Specifically, they are being asked to insert fund-raising circulars in their concert and theater programs, Reid said.
Additionally, public service announcements on radio and television will ask for contributions. A toll-free telephone number is being established, and contributors will be able to charge their donations to credit cards, he said.
All is not final with the project, however: Reid said the campaign had yet to settle on a slogan--"we're still quibbling over it," he said--and wouldn't release the names of any celebrities taking part, save that of Gov. George Deukmejian.
But, he said, "We're talking big Hollywood names, big artistic names, very recognizable names out there asking for your help."
He said arts organizations in Southern California are eager to assist in the campaign.
"The reason they're so eager to help is that they realize the next 'Big One' is going to level Los Angeles," he said. "They might want help too."