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The Brooklyn Arts Council made 99 arts organizations very happy by giving away $159,000 in re-grants at Borough Hall on March 7. Despite cuts in the city budget, BAC Director Pamela Billig says BAC was still able to maintain its support of the borough’s artists - and actually gave away $4,000 more than last year.

This year’s celebration featured performances by the Brighton Ballet Theatre Company (top) and the Progressive Artistry jazz ensemble featuring Robert Trowers on trombone.

On display in the rotunda were "Bowlart" sculptures carved from bowling balls by Kensington artist Giro Chierchio, including this hawk-like bird (center), with wings and beak gleaming like amber. Chierchio applied for a $2,000 re-grant, he said, and received $1,100.

The artist will use his award in April, he said, to teach 80 children in the Virtual Y Extended Day Program at PS 212, 87 Bay 49th St., some of the basics of sculpture with clay. The re-grant defrays the costs of the clay, pedestals and other items he gives to the children during his presentation, in which he shows them his bowling ball sculptures and encourages them to see the possibilities in their balls of clay.

"I try to correlate [the bowling balls] with their lives," said Chierchio. "It’s a hard round, surface, and it doesn’t look like it could be something beautiful and positive. It’s not easy growing up sometimes, but they can keep a positive attitude and look at it in a new perspective."

Remarks were given by (bottom) left to right, Borough President Marty Markowitz, New York State Council on the Arts Executive Director Nicolette Clarke, BAC Chairman Dr. Thomas F. Schutte, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin and BAC President Ella Weiss.

This was a landmark year for BAC, according to Weiss, as it published its Directory of Brooklyn Arts Organizations and launched its Web site, www.brooklynartscouncil.org. BAC has also created professional development seminars for artists and non-profits, "to respond to the needs and concerns of this community in the wake of Sept. 11," explained Weiss. BAC calls them their "Survival Strategies."

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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