The Newport Harbor Art Museum on Monday was awarded less than half the grant money it has received the past two years from the city of Newport Beach, but only after museum officials lobbied against a recommendation that would have reduced their usual grant by more than 75%.
A $15,000 grant was approved, though the museum had received $33,000 in each of the two previous years. The city’s arts commission had recommended giving the museum only $7,000, citing nearly twice as many applications this year from arts organizations, arts commission chairwoman Marilee Stockman said.
“We just didn’t have enough to give anyone a large chunk of money,” Stockman said. The number of applicants grew this year from seven to 13 because of more publicity about the subsidies, she said. A total of $55,000 allocated for all arts grants remained level. The city stipulates that no single applicant may receive more than half the total allocation.
After several museum trustees spoke out against the commission’s recommendation at a regular council meeting, the council went above the commission’s decision, voting to increase the museum’s grant to $15,000.
Newport Beach Mayor Ruthelyn Plummer said Monday that she felt it was unfair to redistribute funds when none of the other applicants had sent representatives to argue that they should get more money too. But the council’s final decision was not to take money away from any group, just to supplement the arts commission funding with extra money for the Newport Beach museum to be taken from the general fund.
A spokeswoman for the museum said museum officials were “concerned” with the grant reduction, “but glad we got a vote of confidence from the City Council by their going beyond the recommendation of the arts commission and more than doubling the amount the commission recommended.”