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Looking at what arts funding cuts mean locally

Feb 11, 2011 7:07 am
The Daily Mail has a story about the effects of cuts to the New York State Council on the Arts locally with a number of key political figures weighing in on their thoughts about how far you cut budgets before the pain becomes too intense to maintain the current quality of life in our rural communities. The story was penned in reaction to this past week's Arts Days activities in Albany, where representatives from arts organizations around the state pleaded their case before legislators. “We’re talking about parity,” said Kay Stamer, executive director of the Greene County Council on the Arts. “A 10 percent cut to the state arts council for grants — which is aid to localities — is not in line with other agencies.” Instead of the full $3.5 million reduction, Stamer and her group of arts advocates asked to restore $2.8 million of grant funding. The proposed budget, she adds, represents a $10 million reduction from a decade ago and brings funding back to 1995 levels, when NYSCA received $31.8 million for local arts grants.


The effect of continuous declines in funding, said Norma Munn, chairman of the New York City Arts Coalition, will result in “brain drain” across the state. Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, said he appreciated the concern and desire to preserve the arts but noted that the state is going through a critical transition. Lopez said the Decentralization grants program, which awards funds to local artists around the state, was important for local organizations, and asked Stamer to frame her request and pass it along to her state lawmakers and the governor. Stamer, who directs a full-time staff of two and three part-time staffers (including this reporter's wife), said a 10 percent cut could be devastating.
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