Thursday, May 19, 2011

MAAF doles out $500K in grants, Mayor Reed restores arts funds to budget

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Mayor Kasim Reed
Today local arts funding organization Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund held its awards luncheon to honor the 11 recipients of $500,000 worth of grants. MAAF, which supports small and mid-size arts organizations, divvied up the half-million-dollar purse between Atlanta Celebrates Photography ($25,000), Atlanta Chamber Players ($20,000), Atlanta Contemporary Art Center ($60,000), CORE ($20,000), Dad's Garage Theatre ($75,000), the Georgia Ballet ($50,000), Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company ($50,000), Madison-Morgan Cultural Center ($60,000), Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia ($50,000), Out of Hand Theatre ($15,000) and Theatre in the Square ($75,000). The grants are unrestricted, meaning the organizations can use the funds however they darn well please.

Mayor Kasim Reed, a former MAAF board member, was in attendance to address a ballroomful of artists and arts supporters barely two weeks after submitting a city budget that proposed slashing funding to Atlanta's Office of Cultural Affairs by 50 percent.

"Great cities have great artists," he noted, before breaking down the city's current budget constraints.

"I did a bad thing," he continued. "I cut arts funding by about $250,000. Since then, it hasn't been sitting right with me. So I started thinking about it, and then I realized: 'I'm the mayor.'" Laughs erupted throughout the room and then Reed announced his plan to reinstate all arts fund to the budget — a reveal that was met with cheers and a standing ovation.

Reed answered a few questions outside after his speech, saying that the notion to restore funding came to him while jogging. (See kids, exercise does have its benefits!) And when asked if the recent arts protests had anything to do with his decision, he said no. What did factor into his decision, however, was how cutting OCA's budget would affect his efforts to pass HB 1049, a proposed penny sales tax bill to benefit local arts and cultural organizations.

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