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Two Memphis arts groups receive grants

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Sep. 28--Playhouse on the Square and Danceworks received loud applause Tuesday night for the way they stretch a dollar for the cause of art.

They were honored in a reception at the Crescent Club with the first-ever Stanford Financial Excellence Awards, given in partnership with the Greater Memphis Arts Council to cultural groups that also know a few things about fiscal stewardship.

Playhouse received a $25,000 unrestricted grant; Danceworks, a smaller group, received $10,000. Both were presented awards crafted by Jim Wallace, director of the National Ornamental Metal Museum.

"If they don't steward the balance sheet and the P&L (profit and loss), we won't be able to enjoy or reap the benefits of a vibrant arts community. It affects us all," said Suzanne Hamm, Stanford Financial Group spokeswoman.

"It made sense since we are in wealth management to reward firms for sound fiscal management."

Finalists also included Memphis College of Art, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, The Blues Foundation and the Cultural Development Foundation of Memphis.

They were judged on the percentage of budget spent on administration, increases in attendance or subscriptions, total earned income and balanced budget history.

The awards represent about a fifth of Stanford's gift to the arts council.

"We'd like to establish this award in all our markets," Hamm said. "Next year, the size of the awards will increase."

In an era of continued cuts in funding, James Davis, Stanford director and chief financial officer, said the nominees proved they could manage expenses, increase revenues and "still make us laugh, cry, think, and most important, feel."

Susan Schadt, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Arts Council, praised them as groups attuned to overcoming obstacles.

"They all work very hard year after year to operate in a financially responsible and sound manner.

"Many have turned around a difficult budget situation or maintained a strong budget in the face of a challenging and difficult funding climate for the arts."

The arts council, the eighth largest United Arts Fund in the nation, will distribute $3.3 million to 23 local cultural organizations in 2006.

Stanford Group Co. operates a retail broker office at 6075 Poplar.


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