Hold That Process
The Arts Commission recommends to City Council that the arts funding application process be suspended for the coming year
Naturally, the commission wanted to take the pulse of the arts community on the matter, so it held a public hearing in council chambers on Monday, March 21. About 50 people turned up, with more than a third of those addressing the commission. Some were concerned that a suspension would make it harder for funding to reflect changes in organizations that have grown substantially in recent years. Others worried that newer and first-time applicants would be shut out. And there was some confusion over the word "freeze," which had initially been used to describe the suspension and suggested to some that funding levels for FY 06 would be frozen at FY 05 levels. But overall, speakers said that the proposed suspension was the fairest solution, especially compared to another quick fix that might gloss over deeply rooted problems or make them worse.
The following night, across the hall, the Arts Commission met again to mull over the matter. Gloria Pennington asked Guidelines Committee Chair Jason Neulander how long the committee needed to resolve the issues at hand. He estimated four to six months, with another four to five months of community input to follow that. Chair Mel Ziegler offered a resolution to council he'd drafted with Cultural Arts Program Manager Vincent Kitch, laying out the suspension as proposed by the committee. After about 45 minutes of discussion and fine-tuning of text, mostly to reflect the body's strong endorsement of a process for new applicants, the commission voted unanimously to recommend the suspension to council. For more information, call the Cultural Arts Program Office at 974-9310.