City arts funding -- a tale of four cities...
In Rio, the city's annual culture budget is doubled to $67 million
The Art Newspaper, 5/18/11
The world's carnival capital is on a mission to become its cultural heart too, with a major injection of cash and a rash of cultural initiatives. Rio's new culture secretary, Emilio Kalil, has doubled the city's annual budget from $33.4 million to $66.7 million. "Rio lost a lot of its power when Brasilia became the capital, but it has a lot more money now, and the focus of the world is on us because of the World Cup and the Olympics," said Kalil. Last month he announced the creation of three new funds, for music, dance and cultural heritage, with a budget of around $11.6 million. The money will go to projects throughout the city, including Rio's economically deprived favelas. Kalil also hopes to revitalise the Cidade da Musica, an enormous complex on the city's southern outskirts. It was commissioned a decade ago by the previous administration, but, thanks to poor management, the construction costs have rocketed from $48 million to $300 million -- and work is still unfinished. "For ten years the city just put money in without any idea of what was happening inside. We just can't leave it closed like it was nothing. It is the public's money in the building, so we have to open it for the public," said Kalil. He hopes to open the venue, renamed the Cidade das Artes, with a diverse programme of music, art and cinema, in 2012 and says it will be like a "mini Lincoln Centre. All kinds of arts will have their place there."
Atlanta mayor reverses decision, will restore city's full arts budget
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/19/11
Mayor Kasim Reed has reversed his decision to cut the city's Office of Cultural Affairs grants program by half, telling arts leaders Thursday that he's restoring its full budget to $470,000. Reed acknowledged that the arts trim, as part of an attempt to close an overall shortfall of $17 million in the city's 2012 budget, "didn't sit right" with him. "I've been thinking about it and then I realized, I was the mayor," Reed said with a smile. "We're going to restore every single penny." A full Marriott Marquis ballroom of metro Atlanta arts and corporate leaders attending the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund luncheon gave Reed a standing ovation. "If you're gonna say it," Reed, who has spoken at many arts functions about culture's ability to lift spirits and elevate the city economy, told the crowd, "you've gotta live it." Though Atlanta's arts funding is minor compared to many cities of its size, arts leaders feel the city needs to at least continue at the current level for reasons both monetary and symbolic. The Metropolitan Arts Fund, part of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, announced $500,000 in grants to 11 metro groups at the luncheon. The funds -- raised from corporations, other foundations and board members -- are part of its short-term Atlanta Arts Recovery initiative launched in 2009 as performance and visual arts groups were feeling the impact of the recession. The fund doubled its annual giving with the initiative, to $1 million. Arts Fund director Lisa Cremin said her long-term goal is to raise its endowment from its current worth of $7.6 million to $20 million, so that it can continue to bestow $1 million annually to metro groups.
London Councils withdraws all funding to arts organisations
The Stage, 5/20/11
No arts organisations are to be funded by London Councils beyond this summer. London Councils had announced plans to cut £3 million financial support for the arts across the capital in December 2010. In February, a High Court judge ordered that the decision process be rerun, quashing all of funding cuts. However, the new decisions are worse for the arts than the initial ones made in December. Not one theatre company will have its funding reinstated and the two strategic bodies that were going to be funded -- the Independent Theatre Council (ITC) and Audiences London -- have also lost their support. ITC chief executive Charlotte Jones said she hoped the organisation will continue to offer all of its services and that it was prepared for its £80,000 grant from London Councils to be cut. However, she added: "There is something about the real loss now of recognition of the importance of culture. You can't really be a funder of pan-London services and schemes without recognising the importance of culture. It is such a great way of making some of the things that they want to happen, happen. It's a great way of including people, it's a great way of educating people, it is a great way of getting people out of deprivation and poverty." Funding to all arts organisations will cease by August 15. A statement from London Councils says that individual boroughs can then decide whether to financially support the organisations at a local level. The overall pan-London grants funding pot has decreased from £30 million per year to £20.8 million for 2011/12.
In NYC, proposed budget cuts of 50% endanger many of city's cultural groups
Crains New York Business, 5/22/11
New York City, which is under severe budget pressure, has proposed reductions in funding for cultural organizations of more than 50%. In the past few years, the City Council has restored a large portion of those funds before the official budget was enacted July 1. But this time, given major cuts to education and other sectors, the council has more competition than ever for its pot of money and may come up dry. And though city funding makes up only a fraction of many of the groups' budgets, the money is earmarked for general operating expenses -- something private donors rarely cover. As a result, cultural institutions are scrambling to make contingency plans. The 33 theaters, museums and other organizations in city-owned buildings are warning they will have to lay off nearly 1,000 staffers if the cuts go through. "The reason it's particularly serious is because it comes on top of other years of cuts," said Karen Brooks Hopkins, president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which, with an expected loss of more than $1 million, will have to reduce the number of nights its main opera hall is lit. "The baseline has gotten lower and lower -- we've reached a tipping point." Cultural chiefs said they understand the city is in a tough spot. But execs are surprised at how steep their cuts are, especially since the city's cultural institutions are major tourism magnets. Indeed, the city's roughly 1,200 cultural organizations contribute more than $6 billion to its economy each year and employ more than 40,000 people.