Cultural Arts Program

A Timeline for Controversy and Reform

April 2001: Cultural Contracts Program staff uses a new program guideline to declare Sharir+Bustamante Danceworks ineligible to receive city funding, launching a four-month controversy.

May 2001: Despite an admission that the guideline in question was not intended to apply to Sharir+Bustamante, the Arts Commission refuses to reopen the process and allow the company's application.

June 2001: Charges over irregularities in the peer review panels are leveled by dozens of applicants in a five-hour public hearing with the Arts Commission.

August 2001: Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman circulates to the Arts Commission and the council a draft proposal for revamping the cultural contracts process, with a comprehensive audit of the program and the hiring of arts funding consultants to propose improvements.

August 2001: In a 3-2 vote, the Arts Commission reverses itself and allows Sharir+Bustamante to apply for funding.

September 2001: The downturn in the economy and response to 9/11 cause a drastic decline in revenue from the hotel/motel bed tax and in funding for cultural contracts.

June 2002: More controversy erupts over peer review panels as they drastically cut funding for some longtime applicants, and the commission upholds their recommendations.

August 2002: Reform gets under way as the city hires Lucille Dabney and associates Marian McCollom and Eduardo Diaz as consultants to study Austin's arts funding program.

September 2002: City Council tosses out all Arts Commission funding recommendations for fiscal year 2003 and institutes its own system of across-the-board cuts, based on the previous year's funding levels less 31%.

September 2002: The city auditor delivers a report on the city's cultural funding process, calling it "an increasingly unworkable system for allocating City funds," citing inconsistencies in allocation and evaluation procedures, circumvention of the appeals process, and ineffective communication.

December 2002: Dabney & Associates presents its report to the City Council, calling for major reorganization of the city's cultural arts programs, including the creation of an independent "private, nonprofit arts agency."

March 2003: City Council moves cultural arts programs out of Parks & Recreation and into Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services. It also engages Dabney & Associates to design a new cultural funding program.

July 2003: City begins search for its first Cultural Arts Program manager.

October 2003: After months of input, a draft of new guidelines for the Cultural Contracts Program is made available for public comment.

November 2003: Vincent Kitch is hired as Cultural Arts Program manager.

April 15, 2004: Kitch presents new cultural arts funding program guidelines to City Council for approval.

April 19-23, 2004: Kitch conducts workshops on the new funding program guidelines.

June 1, 2004: Deadline for Institutional Support and Project Support applications

July 1, 2004: Deadline for Community Initiatives applications

June-July 2004: Peer review panels review applications and score them.

August 2004: Arts Commission forwards recommendations to City Council.

September 2004: City Council approves contracts.

October 1, 2004: Contracts for FY 2005 go into effect.

November 2004: New program guidelines are reviewed and refined.

  • More of the Story

  • It's a Dirty Job ...

    New arts tsar Vincent Kitch rolls up his sleeves to give Austin arts funding a clean start
  • Cultural Shifts

    The basic mechanism for funding artists will look the same, but the city of Austin's cultural contracts program will undergo some significant changes in structure

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Austin arts funding, Cultural Contracts Program, Sharir + Bustamante Danceworks, Arts Commission, Jackie Goodman, Lucille Dabney, Marian McCollom, Eduardo Diaz, Dabney & Associates, Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services Offices, Vincent Kitch, Cultural Arts Program Manager

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