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State grants support ballet, transit, Phipps projects

| Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, 6:51 p.m.

More dance space for budding ballerinas at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and extra room to prepare plants at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are among 17 causes receiving state grants, Gov. Tom Corbett announced on Monday.

The efforts are among 58 receiving more than $133 million in Economic Growth Initiative grants. The projects, chosen on the basis of their job-creating potential, economic impact and readiness to start construction, range from $500,000 to $5 million.

The Ballet Theatre received $1 million to help build a 17,000-square-foot annex with three dance studios next to its headquarters in the Strip District. Executive Director Harris Ferris said the expansion would allow the ballet to increase the number of students it serves from 1,000 to 1,600 over three years.

“We're not only training dancers but building future dancers and ballet enthusiasts,” Ferris said.

Phipps plans to use its $1.5 million grant to develop its lower campus, which includes the Center for Sustainable Landscapes. The grant will help pay for renovating the old public works building, which will be used for preparing plants for exhibition in the greenhouses.

“It's not all the money we need, but it gives us a good start for finishing this project,” said Richard Piacentini, executive director of Phipps. He said Phipps still needs to raise about $5 million of the $23 million cost for the entire project.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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