June 07--The St. Paul Public Library will receive $182,000 toward new library materials from the city's Cultural STAR Program.
Funded by St. Paul's half-cent sales tax, the 20-year-old grants program is providing the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts' Summer Dance Series and Bedlam Theatre's Autumnal Explosion with $35,000 apiece.
The St. Paul City Council recently approved $1.03 million in 33 grants (and a "forgivable" loan to the Ordway) to support arts organizations and cultural and community events.
The Cultural STAR funds represent 10 percent of the city's half-cent sales tax. The awards were chosen from among 48 applications and $2.76 million in requests presented to the city's Cultural STAR board, a citizen review panel.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman took the board's $999,000 recommendations into account before coming up with his own, which were approved by the city council without further changes.
Among the larger grants, the Minnesota Museum of American Art will receive $100,000, and Walker West Music Academy will receive $50,000 toward its new 6,000-square-foot music center at 760 Selby Ave.
Peter Leggett, executive director of the 26-year-old Walker West Music Academy, hopes the school's $550,000 expansion will help revitalize a stretch of Selby Avenue between Dale Street and Lexington Parkway that could use a boost.
Walker West's $50,000 STAR grant will be combined with support from the McKnight Foundation, the 3M Foundation, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and the St. Paul Foundation, he said.
"This new space adds about 1,000 square feet for us and allows us to really customize ... to better fit our needs," Leggett said. "The heart of the new space is a performance space that can hold up to 100 people. We're also going to open it up to other musicians, other artists and other organizations."
The Ordway will receive $300,000 as part of a 10-year, $3 million STAR loan. The Arts Partnership loan, now in its seventh year, supports the Ordway's ongoing expansion and does not have to be paid back if the project is completed.
Applications for the second and final round of 2014 Cultural STAR grants are due to the STAR board by 4 p.m.Aug. 29.
Neighborhood STAR grants and loans, which direct city sales-tax money to "bricks and mortar" capital improvement projects in St. Paul neighborhoods, will be awarded in July.
Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172. Follow him at twitter.com/FrederickMelo.
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