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State grants help arts groups reach out

The Oregon Arts Commission has awarded grants to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Ballet Folklorico Ritmo Alegre as part of a program that strives to boost community involvement in the arts.

The Arts Builds Communities grants help arts organizations reach underserved audiences, state officials said in a news release. This year the program will give $200,000 to 34 organizations. The grants are made possible through a funding partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival received $7,000 for its partnership with the Oregon Child Development Center/Migrant Head Start in Ashland to provide free theater classes and workshops in Spanish. The festival's bilingual teaching artists present programs for parents and teachers. Funding will pay for bus transportation, Spanish open-captioned plays, English/Spanish tours, and pre- and post-show discussions and gatherings with actors and artistic staff.

Ballet Folklorico Ritmo Alegre of Talent got $3,500 for its Cultural Bridges to Friendship program, which will bring a Latino cultural arts course to 600 children from K-12 schools. Planned by educators from six local schools and Ballet Folklorico Ritmo Alegre, it will teach Mexican folk culture and dance and provide a class and community performance. Funding will pay for busing and reduced ticket prices for the community performance.