The Arizona Commission on the Arts has awarded close to $500,000 in grants to 75 Southern Arizona arts organizations.

Funds for the grants, which go to support festivals, education programs or community-based arts groups, came from the state and the National Endowment of the Arts.

For the second year in a row, the state allocated $1 million for the arts, pulled from the interest in Arizona’s “rainy day fund” — $450 million set aside at the beginning of the the 2012 fiscal year.

State Sen. Steve Farley, a Tucson Democrat, had proposed the money be allocated for the arts last year, and he championed the same for this, said Robert Booker, executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

The organization distributed $1.8 million to Arizona arts groups — making that $1 million from the state a big boost to the arts statewide.

“We were pleased to see over a fourth of those funds going to Pima County,” said Booker in a phone interview from his Phoenix office. “There are some very exciting projects.”

The ACA changed its grant process last year, emphasizing service to diverse communities, fiscal responsibility and ingenuity.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at or 573-4128.