City Cultural Arts Funding: One for the History Books

What do you call it when the City Council approves the Cultural Arts Funding Program budget with no furor or 11th-hour changes? How about 'historic'?

What do you call it when the City Council approves the Cultural Arts Funding Program budget with little discussion and nary a change in the recommendations from the Austin Arts Commission? How about "historic"? That's the word of choice for Cultural Arts Program Manager Vincent Kitch, and it's mighty apt. Arts funding has long been a source of tension and contention in our municipal budgetary wars, with arts groups large and small routinely taking issue with the commission's funding allocations and furiously lobbying council to increase their slice of the pie. And every September since time immemorial, it seems, council has responded by stepping in and, for good or ill, adjusting the budget figures. Until this year. Adoption of the FY 2006 Cultural Arts Fund budget went more smoothly than in any year in memory. No big furor. No 11th-hour changes. Of course, it helps that the fund program amount is back up – way up, as in $3.8 million, a full million over FY 2005 – meaning that most applicants are slotted for increases that range from the healthy to the hefty. That goes a long way toward easing the pain of the severe cuts of the past four years. But there's also the new funding matrix, which takes into account the size and history of the applicant organization and the score it received from a review panel. Carefully crafted over months of discussion among a committee that included members of the arts community and Arts Commission, as well as City Council members Raul Alvarez and Betty Dunkerley, the new matrix may well be helping to distribute the funds more fairly. Historic, indeed.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Cultural Arts Program, Vincent Kitch, Austin arts funding, Austin Arts Commission, Raul Alvarez, Betty Dunkerley

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