By Howard Pousner
The city of Atlanta’s support for artists and cultural groups appears heading for a significant cut, and the local arts community is preparing to rally.
In a recent e-mail to local arts organizations, Monica D. Prothro of the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs said the city is considering a 50 percent cut in fiscal 2012 for its Contracts for Arts Service program funding. If the cut is approved, the granting program’s budget would be reduced from $470,000 to $235,000. That would mean no funding for individual artists or community organizations and that only 30 arts organizations would receive support, Prothro wrote.
Local artists and arts groups, including WonderRoot, gloATL and Dance Truck, have created a “Rally for the Arts” Facebook page (www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=221318094561715) inviting arts supporters to a rally outside City Hall at 5 p.m. May 12 and to voice support at a City Council finance committee public hearing that follows at 6 p.m.
Arts leaders who plan to speak at both include Flora Maria Garcia, CEO of the Metro Atlanta Arts and Culture Coalition; Chris Appleton, executive director of WonderRoot; Louis Corrigan, president of Possible Futures and Flux Projects; and Myrna Anderson-Fuller, executive director of Hammonds House Museum.
While the city’s granting program has never been as substantial as Fulton County’s, county and state support for the arts have also been declining due to the economy in recent years. As a result, arts groups in the city and Fulton County have adjusted their fund-raising to make up for declining public arts funding, trying to build up individual giving to mix with corporate and foundation funding.
Long-time Little 5 Points troupe Horizon Theatre recently cited cuts in governmental support to the tune of $50,000 in e-mails to supporters as it tried to raise individual contributions to finish fiscal 2011 in the black.
In an e-mail Thursday, Appleton compared governmental support for the arts in Atlanta to another Southern city that competes with the Georgia capital for business and tourism.
“Charlotte grants approximately $14 million each year to non-profit art groups and individual artists,” Appleton wrote. “If Atlanta is to grow into the first class city our leadership claims, we must invest in arts and culture.”