Educational CyberPlayGround ®

***Anonymous Was a Woman

The San Jose Mercury News reports that anonymous donors are working to fill funding holes left by budget cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts. In August, checks for $25,000 arrived in the mailboxes of 10 women artists.

The money came from a foundation called Anonymous Was a Woman, whose mission is to help redress perceived discrimination in the art world and help make up for the elimination of grants to individual artists from the NEA.

The Mercury News compares the founder of Anonymous Was a Woman to John Beresford Tipton, the mysterious television philanthropist in the popular 1950s television series "The Millionaire." The paper reports that those who know the donor would say only that she is a woman who lives in New York and is an artist, though not a famous one. No one knew the source of her fortune or its extent. As a title for her foundation, she borrowed a line from Virginia Woolf's novel "A Room of One's Own."

The Anonymous Was a Woman awards operate like the MacArthur Foundation "genius awards" in that artists do not apply for them but rather are nominated, usully without their knowledge. This is the second year that the foundation has awarded grants. Each year, the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation plans to give at least 10 unrestricted grants to female visual artists older than 30 who show creative promise and are at a critical juncture in their career, the foundation's literature states.

***Report says arts out of touch

A federal study concludes that the arts in America has grown faster than its sources of financial support partly because artists and art groups have not cultivated a broad public, The New York Times reports. The report, prepared by the National Endowment for the Arts, says many Americans do not recognize the relevance of art in their lives. Arts groups also often are elitist, racially segregated, class-based and isolated from the "communities they claim to serve, but don't," it says.

The 193-page document, "American Canvas," is based in part on views of artists, arts officials, social critics and scholars. Government, private and corporate support is down, the audience is aging and the arts is being ignored or neglected in public schools, the report says. As examples of declining support, the report cites surveys showing museum expenses running 22 percent above income and the nation's 65 largest dance companies spending 36 percent more than they take in. Private support for the arts topped out at $10.23 billion in 1992 and had fallen below $10 billion by 1995, it says.

In the report, arts writer John Kreidler credits the federal government, which created the endowment, and the Ford Foundation, which made $400 million in arts grants between 1957 and 1976, with igniting the growth. Between 1965 and 1994, the number of professional orchestras in the U.S. grew from 100 to 230, professional opera companies from 27 to 120, dance companies from 37 to 400 and theater companies from 56 to 425, according to the report.

Sana Musasama, 2002 Award Winner

Cheryl Dunye 1997 Award Winner