The art of the deal: In the face of encroaching development, the Robischon Gallery is holding down the artistic fort at 18th and Wazee streets--a stand that earned founder Jim Robischon an award of appreciation from the Lower Downtown District Inc. at last week's annual meeting. And Robischon won't be fighting the good fight alone, either. Sure, Bill Havu closed his 1/1 Gallery at 1715 Wazee (he plans to open the Wm Havu Gallery in the Golden Triangle next summer); and the Art of Craft, at 1736 Wazee, also disappeared last week. And yes, the Sandy Carson Gallery will soon vacate its space at 1743 Wazee Street. But that spot won't be empty for long.

According to Sally Perisho, director of the Metro State Center for the Visual Arts, her gallery will be moving from its current spot at 1701 Wazee to a new, and very permanent, home in the building that the Art of Craft and Sandy Carson are leaving.

Now if only the owners of the Ice House could be convinced to continue showing art, as they currently are in a lobby show, Art for You, a benefit for the Art Students League of Denver that debuted last Thursday and runs through March 14 at 1801 Wynkoop Street.

Show me the money: When you're a small arts group, it's tough enough finding the time to gather all the facts and financial information necessary to apply for a Scientific and Cultural Facilities District grant. But in Denver, one of the six counties that split the Tier III SCFD money--13 percent of the total take, of which Denver got about a third, or $1.3 million last year--the process is even more brain-deadening.

That's because of the "non-discrimination policy" that the Denver County Cultural Council adopted back in July 1996, when it took over the city's Tier III funding responsibilities from the Denver Foundation, which had sorted through grant applications since the SCFD tax was first approved in 1988. According to that resolution, "all organizations funded by the SCFD Denver Tier III fund...will review their non-discrimination policy, or institute one if not present, to ensure inclusion of age, race, sex, color, creed, religions, natural origin, sexual orientation and disability."

Of course, Tier III money is reserved exclusively for small arts organizations that often don't have a membership large enough to constitute a bridge foursome, much less be inclusive of a variety of discrimination-sensitive groups. The metro area's four largest cultural institutions--the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Museum of Natural History, the Denver Zoo and the Denver Botanic Gardens--get their cut of the SCFD pie in Tier I; other major groups with major budgets, ranging from the Arvada Center for the Arts to the Colorado Symphony to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, are guaranteed their share through Tier II. Only the Tier III groups must apply every year (with no promise that their requests will be granted), and only the groups going for Denver money must satisfy the non-discrimination policy.

Which meant that plenty of arts supporters were scrambling--and complaining--last week as they hurried to meet the Denver County Cultural Council's deadline of February 27 for this year's grants cycle. Still, by last Friday afternoon, the council had collected applications from over a hundred groups. Whether those applications were sufficiently politically correct, however, remains to be seen.

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