Utah has received the most money ever from the National Endowment for the Arts - a $750,000 matching grant that is also one of the largest in the nation, Gov. Norm Bangerter announced Friday.

"This three-quarters of a million dollars will allow the arts to grow along with the state and be a force in the lives of our children and grandchildren," the governor said.The NEA funds will be added to the $2.3 million endowment for the arts created by the 1990 Legislature. Lawmakers made the appropriation contingent upon receiving the federal grant.

Although exhibits paid for with NEA grants have resulted in a national controversy over the federal government's support of the arts, Utah Arts Council Director Carol Nixon does not expect a similar situation here.

"We have been very, very grateful here in Utah that we have not had to deal with the major, major problems other states have had," Nixon said. "While they experiment and do new things here, there has not been a complaint."

NEA funding of a traveling exhibit of Robert Mapplethorpe's homoerotic photographs sparked the controversy over using federal money for the arts that had resulted in new restrictions placed on recipients.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, came up with a compromise that eased the rules governing the content of NEA-funded projects by leaving it up to the courts to determine what is obscene.

The first recipients of Utah's grant, arts organizations of various sizes located throughout the state, will be announced after the first of the year, she said.

Nixon said 20 percent of the interest earned from the federal grant will go to arts organizations, 20 percent to "ethnic groups and other special constituencies" and 60 percent to individual artists.

All allocations from the endowment fund will have to be matched by as much as $3 for every $1 awarded. "This is seed money to promote giving in the private sector," Nixon said.

Money for individual artists will not be available for at least a year so the endowment can accumulate sufficient interest to make the grants, Nixon said.

Utah's grant is part of a $15.6 million NEA allocation to support "exciting, innovative and far-reaching" projects nationwide, according to the federal agency.

The smallest, $50,000, was awarded to a Long Beach, Calif. public radio station. Million-dollar grants went to a New York choreographer, a public television series and the Houston Grand Opera.

Besides the recipients of the million-dollar grants, only San Francisco's Fine Arts Museum and New York's Museum of Modern Art film department received larger NEA grants than Utah.