Local News

Raleigh Wants to Increase Funding for the Arts

Posted January 24, 2008 7:15 p.m. EST
Updated January 24, 2008 9:24 p.m. EST

— The Raleigh City Council is looking to increase the amount of money the city allots for the arts by an additional $185,000.

Right now, the city takes about $4 per taxpayer from its general fund. However, city leaders want to increase that amount to $4.50 by July 1, followed by another raise of 50 cents in 2009.

Mayor Charles Meeker said the money that the city has set aside for arts is lacking.

"Frankly, the value of what we are giving now is worse than what we gave 10 years ago," Meeker said.

Mary Poole, executive director of the nonprofit ArtSpace, argued that the arts increase the attractiveness of life in large cities.

"The arts can inspire so much," Poole said. "You've got to have a lively cultural environment."

The city's arts commission manages the money and doles it out to local artists and arts organizations that apply for funding. Nonprofit groups, such as ArtSpace, depend on the grant money to keep their programs running.

ArtSpace provides space for artists to create and sell their works. Painter Eric McRay says those art programs helped keep him off the streets when he was younger.

"It changed my whole life, from the age of 16 until now," McRay said.