On the Brink
One of our dearest, oldest and most unusual arts institutions is teetering on the brink of demise: On the eve of its 30th anniversary, the multidisciplinary Intersection for the Arts faces financial straits that may force it to close. Last year, the talented executive director Frances Phillips left for a job with the Haas Foundation. At the same time, Kate Moses, director of the literary branch, left on the heels of the gallery director (who was never replaced). Most recently, theater director Paul Codiga left. Everyone suspected that a crisis was in the making, but board member/playwright Octavio Solis says the problem has less to do with personnel changes than with balancing its budget against shrinking funding: “We have to break the mold and start anew. We're re-thinking the ways things are curated and the way things are funded. We really need to go back to grassroots tactics and ask our supporters and subscribers to send anything.” The board hopes to hold a benefit soon, but invites donations in the meantime. “It's dire,” Solis says. Remember, Intersection is responsible for launching the careers of Solis himself (who went on to win the Will Glickman award), the wunderkind David Barth (author of A Dance Along the Precipice), as well as Eric Ehn, Bob Ernst and Sara Felder. Back in the day, Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg performed there, too. So it would be no small loss if Intersection vanished. If you'd like to help, send your dead presidents to: Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, S.F., CA 94103.
Solis also let it slip that his play El Paso Blue, which premiered at Intersection last year, is now up and running at San Diego Rep. Actors Delia McDougall, Monica S‡nchez and musician Hawkeye Herman are reprising their roles.
Am I dreaming, or was there really a moment when the NEA looked safe from the tentacles of slimy, mean-spirited right-wingers? Here they come again, and the National Council on the Arts (the governing body of the NEA) is already cowering. Last month the council voted to reject funding for two grants recommended by an NEA advisory peer panel, including $13,000 to support Urban Bush Women's production of Bones and Ash: A Gilda Story based on the novel by Jewelle Gomez. A dance-theater-music group out of New York, Urban Bush Women has a long and solid track record. Surely what threw the council for a loop was the proposed opera's theme: Gomez's book, The Gilda Stories, is about lesbian vampires. Gomez is currently an artist-in-residence at Brava! For Women in the Arts.
Woe is us.
By Laura Jamison