The Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted on Monday, January 27, to approve the final 2014 budget. After having deferred a vote at their meeting on January 22, the commission passed a budget that gives Arts & Culture $3.6 million for FY2014, a loss of $1.4 million, or 29 percent of its FY2013 budget. (For FY2013, Arts & Culture was given a budget of just over $5 million, but only spent $4.5 million, which brings the deduction down to 18 percent.)
The commission restored $750,000 for the Arts Contracts for Services Program, which was facing total defunding. The program, which falls under the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, “awards contracts [to organizations and artists] related to the production, creation, presentation, exhibition and managerial support of artistic and cultural services in the City of Atlanta.”
With a budget of $1.2 million, the OCA also supports projects through Power2Give.org, matching crowd-sourced funding dollar for dollar. So far it has raised $600,000, according to OCA executive director Camille Russell Love.
The county was trying to close a budget gap of about $70 million, which it was seeking to do through across-the-board cuts to “unessential” services (those not mandated by the state), like Grady Hospital, which escaped with a 10-percent budget reduction instead of the proposed 50 percent, leaving it with $41.2 million for 2014. Family and Children Services lost $1 million in funding, while Human Services lost $4.5 million from its 2013 budget of $28.5 million.
According to an email announcement from Commissioner Joan Garner, a major supporter of the arts, hundreds of residents contacted her office in support of various causes.
The arts may have dodged a bullet this time, but they need more than hundreds of voices to survive, if not grow.