The Arizona Commission on the Arts recently awarded 233 grants to Arizona arts organizations, festivals and programs throughout the state.

The commission awarded $2.65 million, which represents $500,000 more than last year.

Grants to West Valley arts organizations and programs totaled $152,898.

Theater Works received $28,000 in a community investment grant. Theater Works’ mission statement says it is to provide opportunities for children, patrons and artists to experience theater that inspires, enriches and enlightens through the experience of the performing arts.

Peoria Accelerated High School received a $12,500 grant for its Strengthening Schools through Partnerships program. Peoria Accelerated High School and What’s Happening’ Arts Movement (WHAM) requested support for their substantive school/community collaboration, strengthening learning in arts education and arts integration in the Title I school. The project builds on “Together We Grow,” a mural by the students displaying a rooted tree, partially funded through a donation from the ACA. The follow-on project creates clay birds representing the students flying into the world after leaving school.

West Valley Arts Council received a $14,000 community investment grant. The West Valley Arts Council was founded in 1969 with the mission of enriching the West Valley by growing a vibrant and connected arts and cultural community. Representing the 13 cities and towns known locally as the West Valley, the Arts Council’s purpose is to present quality, affordable, accessible and culturally diverse artistic programming for residents of all ages. The Arts Council also serves as a promotion resource for other arts organizations, community events and artists. It cultivates and maintains strong partnerships with governmental, educational and corporate entities, as well as with other cultural organizations throughout the West Valley and beyond. Its commitment to Arts in Education Partnerships with school districts and educators, along with year-round opportunities to participate in the arts, has resulted in greater achievements and advancement for youths.

WHAM received a $10,500 community investment grant. WHAM’s mission is to provide innovative, multidisciplinary and arts-inclusive programming, exhibits and projects to the diverse communities it serves. Connecting people through the arts, WHAM brings the arts to people of all backgrounds in the 13 West Valley Cities. WHAM supports and advances artistic awareness, participation and expression. It promotes economic development and tourism in the area, and artistic collaboration for its members, the community and partner organizations.

Spotlight Youth Theatre in Glendale received a $14,000 community investment grant.

Spotlight Youth Theatre’s mission is to provide youths and their families a safe, welcoming environment where the individual is supported, teamwork is embraced and creativity is encouraged through the high quality performing arts and educational programs, which enrich and strengthen the community.

The recent slate of awarded grants reflects sectorwide growth, most evident in the Community Investment Grant applicant pool, which saw annual budgets increasing for major arts institutions, alongside a proliferation of small and mid-sized organizations entering the grant program.

Overall, the Arts Commission saw a 10-percent increase in applications across Festival, SSTAP, and CIG programs, from 12 of Arizona’s 15 counties.

“We are committed to ensuring that Arts Commission programs are representative of the people who live, work and create here, and that resources reach all areas of the state. The fact that we have not yet received applications this year from three counties speaks to the fact that there is still work to do to improve geographic parity,” said Jaime Dempsey, executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts. “Still, this batch of grants reflects progress in expanding the geographic range of the state’s arts investments: with increased funding to 11 counties, including an increase of 169 percent to Yuma County, and though still modest in number of grants, funding increases of over 200 percent to Gila and Mojave counties. In this regard, the state of Arizona’s amplified arts-based investment is already paying huge dividends to Arizona communities.”