Just months after a raucous and supportive crowd filled a Fulton County Board of Commissioners meeting and helped bat down a proposal to eliminate major funding, the Arts and Culture Department is again in danger of being significantly reduced.
The commissioners will gather tomorrow morning for their January Recess Meeting to set this year’s budget. The proposed FY2014 budget — first presented to the commissioners in November and then again in December — calls for a decrease of over $1 million in arts funding, which is more than a 30 percent cut. It’s not the only department that faces a hit — Human Services is facing a potential $6 million decrease.
A major cut was threatened last year, but after a robust showing from arts supporters at an August meeting, the commissioners voted 6-0 to reinstate Arts and Culture to the original budget of close to $5 million. A county deficit, though, has meant that arts funding is again imperiled. Jessica Corbitt, from Fulton County’s communications department, says a number of factors have caused that, predominantly involving property taxes. Fulton County has not been allowed to raise taxes and with a “decline in home values over the years,” less money has come in.
Local arts organizations are being urged to come to the budget meeting. Among the organizations lobbying for action is Horizon Theatre, which sent out an e-mail encouraging supporters to “flood their offices with faxes, e-mails and phone calls” and attend the Wednesday meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Assembly Hall of the Fulton County Government Center. A number of individuals in favor of keeping the arts budget the same as FY2013 will be allowed to speak briefly before the commissioners.
Fulton County has long been a supporter of the arts via its Fulton County Arts Council, providing funding to a who’s who of organizations across the metro Atlanta area.