Local News

Art Programs May Be 'Brushed' Away For Lack Of City Funding

Posted June 24, 2002

— The state budget crisis is trickling down now to your kids. Raleigh's current budget cuts money to dozens of local arts groups -- meaning many camps and shows could be put on hold.

Budding artists could be on the short end of the stick under a worst-case budget scenario. The Raleigh Street Painting Festival would likely be canceled if local arts groups lose their city funding. The cuts could be as deep as 65 percent. Even signature events like Artsplosure are in jeopardy.

"Community Music School has already said they would have to drop 25 students off their waiting list, 25 who are already in the program would have to be dropped. The African-American cultural center produces a summer production of Amistad that would be in jeopardy," said Elizabeth Grimes-Droessler of the Raleigh Arts Commission.

Theater in the Park takes a big chunk of city spending on the arts. The city is required by contract to keep funding it, but some people are not breathing easy.

"Arts aren't a dessert. They are main courses in people's lives," said Ira David Wood of Theater in the Park.

Some officials believe the proposed cuts would have a devastating impact on the arts community and the economy.

"You have 2.3 people arriving in every car to see a show. Those 2.3 people spend an average of $50 a person per day, so you figure what that means to local businesses, gas stations, and hotels," Wood said.

Theater in the Park is lobbying on behalf of two dozen lesser-known groups, and hoping to convince city leaders what patrons of the arts already know.

"We love living here because of the plays that are available. Just love it," Raleigh resident Judy Thompson said.

The Even Exchange Theater may have to cancel a weekend of performances planned for the BTI Center this November.


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