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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fulton County unanimously rejects proposal to cut arts funding

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 3:58 PM

The Center for Puppetry Arts is one of many organizations that have been helped by Fulton County arts funding
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • The Center for Puppetry Arts is one of many organizations that have been helped by Fulton County arts funding
The Fulton County Commission this morning unanimously voted not to cut the amount of grants it awards to arts groups.

The cash-strapped county, which is expected to face an estimated $114 million budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year, was considering allocating $1 million - that's nearly $500,000 less than it spent last year on awards - to local arts and cultural organizations. That would have meant smaller grants to the groups.

Fulton County is the state's largest government funder of the arts and typically awards more than 100 grants to artists and organizations.

Interim County Manager David Ware had proposed the cuts to free up cash that would allow the county to lease the Union City jail. Such a deal, county officials say, would ease overcrowding conditions at Fulton's lock-up on Rice Street in northwest Atlanta.

The arts community called for supporters to attend the commission meeting and speak out about the proposal. This morning, county commissioners ultimately voted 6-0 to reject the proposal.

"If we were living in ancient Greece, we would not want to live in Sparta," said Commissioner Joan Garner, according to the AJC. "We would want to live in Athens, because it has a vibrant culture."

Later this year, county commissioners will beginning pulling together next year's budget. One of the proposals that's been vetted as part of a review of all discretionary spending in the county includes an outright elimination of the arts and culture funding, which reportedly amounts to just over $5 million each year.

We've heard that County Chairman John Eaves is not keen on the proposal and is trying to find alternatives. But cutting $114 million sure isn't easy.

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