Children's Museum Tucson

Children’s Museum Tucson, 200 S. Sixth Ave.

Photos by Ron Medvescek / Arizona Daily Star

The Tucson Symphony Orchestra, The Loft Cinema and the Children’s Museum Tucson have been awarded $60,000 grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts — the largest amounts given for the 2017 fiscal year.

The Arizona Theatre Company snagged one of the next-largest grants, for $47,000. But that money likely won’t come to the company until the fall. The grant was contingent on ATC putting on its 2016-17 season, which earlier this summer was questionable after the company announced that it needed to raise $2 million. The company, which mounts seasons in Tucson and Phoenix, made its goal last week.

Steve Carr, an ATC spokesman, said the state commission will review the company’s grant application in the fall.

ATC in early July received a $78,909 grant from the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, which awarded Phoenix-area arts groups more than $865,000 in grants.

“In this age of ebbing government support for the arts across the country, we are thrilled that Arizona’s commission is still going strong, and that they have earmarked a grant for Arizona Theatre Company,” said ATC’s acting managing director, William Russo, in a written statement. “Both the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture have shown ATC generous support and belief in the value we provide to the state’s cultural landscape.”

The state commission handed out nearly $2.3 million in grants, double what it gave out last year after lawmakers kicked in $1.5 million from the so-called rainy day fund. Interest from the fund could provide additional grants, state arts officials said in a written statement.

TSO’s grant was the largest the orchestra has received from the state in recent years, said President and CEO Mark Blakeman.

“And it’s almost three times larger than what we received last year,” he said.

The arts commission said the orchestra’s new family focused programming, including concerts centered on the music of animated films including “Fantasia” in 2014 and “Pixar in Concert” last year, contributed to helping the TSO secure the larger grant.

The grant also will support future artistic programming from TSO music-director-designate José Luis Gomez, who will program his first season in 2017-18. Blakeman said the commission was impressed by Gomez’s interest in bringing Latin-flavored music to Tucson.

Blakeman said the grant is an affirmation that the TSO is on the right track in changing its narrative “of who we are and what we are doing and what we are sharing with the community,” especially in its family programming that is reaching audiences “that don’t look like the typical symphony audiences.”

“I think there’s payoff from a lot of a hard work from a lot of people in the organization and it’s about reshaping” how the community views the orchestra, he said.

The Children’s Museum grant comes just as it is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary. It also comes 14 months after the museum opened a satellite early childhood museum in Oro Valley.

“It was wonderful. Talk about a pleasant surprise,” said Executive Director Michael Luria, who said the $60,000 grant was the museum’s largest from the state in its 30-year history.

Luria said the increase in funding is largely due to the museum expanding its budget from $1.3 million to $1.6 million to accommodate the second facility.

The museum will mark its 30th anniversary next Saturday with a special $3 admission, special events throughout the day and an ice cream social beginning at 2 p.m. at the museum, 200 S. Sixth Ave. Details: childrensmuseumtucson.org

Nearly 70 Pima County arts organizations received state grants, including the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance in Oro Valley, which received $22,000; and several groups that received $12,000 including Live Theatre Workshop, The Rogue Theatre, the Tucson Girls Chorus and True Concord Voices & Orchestra.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@tucson.com or 573-4642. On Twitter: @Starburch

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.