United Arts leaves Mad Cow Theatre out of $1.48 million in grant awards

United Arts of Central Florida denied a funding request from Mad Cow Theatre that left the debt-ridden theater company out of $1.48 million in grant awards to local arts organizations.

Mad Cow has come under fire after several artists accused the theater of late checks and failing to make payments, which was later affirmed by Mad Cow representatives. Orlando city officials also confirmed that Mad Cow owes the city about $330,000 in fees and reimbursements related to its lease with the city for the space at 54 W. Church St.

United Arts awarded operating support grants to 38 groups this year, including $114,860 to the Orlando Repertory Theatre and $153,682 to the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Last year, Mad Cow received $18,540 in an operating support grant from United Arts.

Flora María García, president of United Arts, says she can't speak directly about Mad Cow's situation but adds that an organization's finances are an important aspect for the 12 to 15 panelists reviewing grant applications. García adds that a certified public accountant reviews each organization's audits, financials and funding history to make a recommendation to the panel.

García says that looking at all the information, the panel decided not to fund Mad Cow this year, but the organization can apply for the same grant next year or apply for United Arts' smaller, project-specific grants.

"We offer all of our grant applicants technical assistance and any kind of help they might want if they desire it," García says. "We want all the organizations we fund to be successful and continue to work with. We're hoping organizations will come back to us next year, and if they work through their issues, then we will welcome them back into the fold."

Mad Cow spokesperson and board member Betsey Maupin was not immediately available to comment on United Arts decision.

In October, the theater company almost lost out on a $75,000 grant from Orange County after the financial accusations were made public, but Mad Cow has since agreed to meet certain conditions to obtain the grant, including paying money it owes to artists, staff and technical support.

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