Ballet West has been awarded a $500,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Arts, the largest single grant in the company's history and the largest federal arts grant awarded to a Utah arts organization.

The grant, made public on Thursday, requires a $3 match for every $1 awarded. Over the next four years, Ballet West must raise $1.5 million in additional funds to qualify.The grant, designed to assist long-range model projects of national significance, was one of 25 given this year in amounts ranging from $1 million to $50,000.

Ballet West's winning proposal is for a plan to reach outlying communities in eight Western states. Through a unique touring model involving a "hub and spokes" arrangement, full company performances would be given in urban areas, combined with split company touring to smaller communities.

"In this way the costs can be significantly reduced, while the level of performance remains exceptionally high," said general manager Trevor Cushman.