Advocates: Cuts to Arts Theatens Cultural Heritage

by ekramer on June 8, 2009

A proposed cut to the Kentucky Arts Council’s budget worries arts groups, even though it’s part of across-the-board cuts for state agencies for the fiscal year starting July 1. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

Gov. Steve Beshear has proposed cutting the Kentucky Arts Council’s budget by about 2.6 percent. The Kentucky legislature will consider it in the upcoming special session.

The cut if added to previous ones would reduce the council’s budget by more than 20 percent, says David Cupps of the advocacy group Arts Kentucky. Cupps warns further cuts to such a small agency could have serious consequences.

“If these cuts and shortfall continue in significant ways like they’ve been trending, our culture heritage is at stake,” Cupps says. “We’ve got to keep as much art funding as we possibly can because we’re also talking about maintaining the cultural heritage we have as Kentuckians.”

Cupps says pervious cuts have been passed onto local arts groups throughout the state that are also coping with previous public funding cuts and falling donations. The situation has forced many to reduce staff, programs, performances and exhibitions.

“They’re trying their very best to make sure that it is not very noticeable to the public, that the programs and the performances that they have still keep up to the highest standards that they can,” Cupps says. And I think the public is going to see that there are fewer activities to take their children to and cutbacks in certain performances.”

Several Louisville groups have curtailed offerings, including Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Louisville Orchestra. The Speed Art Museum is creating more exhibits from its own collection of works.

Cupps says some groups will receive some help with money the Arts Council will distribute from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“They’re making available some grants from the stimulus funds that the NEA is providing through the Kentucky Arts Council,” Cupps says. “And some of those panels are going on now so that they can pass out funds from the NEA to help bolster some of those arts organizations.”

But Cupps says these NEA funds aren’t a long-term solution to for arts funding and that the state and groups need to look for more ideas and solutions preserve the state’s cultural heritage.

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Todd P. Lowe June 9, 2009 at 9:22 am

We are actually fortunate in Kentucky that the Arts Council is not suffering reductions in state funding at levels greater than other government departments. In many states arts are being reduced at far greater rates than other areas of state government, and some states arts agencies are being threatened with “zeroing out” budgets. While no one in Kentucky is happy with the drastic cuts in funding for many agencies, Governor Beshear is being very fair in the manner in which he deals with this budget crisis.

Todd P. Lowe – Chair, Kentucky Arts Council

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