State withholds half of arts money

July 31, 1992|By Linell Smith | Linell Smith,Staff Writer Staff writers J. Wynn Rousuck and John Dorsey contributed to this story.

Roughly 175 arts organizations in Maryland will receive half of the annual state grants they expected to get this month with the remainder postponed until January, according to the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development.

Uncertainty about the state's financial resources forced DEED to postpone payment of the funding not only to arts organizations but also to county and city employment and training agencies, to economic development organizations and to the World Trade Center Institute, which provides educational programs about different cultures to the business community.

This year the state awarded a total of $2.1 million to such statewide arts organizations as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Center Stage and $1.1 million to its small and mid-sized groups, according to DEED spokeswoman Marilyn Corbett. Half of the state's award of $641,000 to county arts councils will also be withheld.

Arnold Lehman, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art, said the postponement would amount to about $190,000 of the museum's budget of between $8 million and $8.5 million. He said he had asked all departments to report to him next week on what cuts they could make, and could not say exactly how the museum would deal with the loss. But, he added, "the public to one degree or another is always affected."

bTC Center Stage was to receive $213,250, about 5 percent of its budget.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, whose budget for next year is $17 million, will have $420,000 withheld. Executive director John Gidwitz said he could not specify how the delay might affect the organization which is about to negotiate a new contract with its musicians.

Jack Rasmussen, executive director of Maryland Art Place, said $12,750 will be withheld from the private non-profit gallery, which has a budget of about $340,000.

"It's a real blow to the kinds of programs we can present," he


Philip Arnoult, executive director of Theatre Project, said, "This is just one more manifestation of the fact that the times are very, very difficult in the country right now to make art. [They're] not friendly to organizations much less individuals." His organization was awarded $24,000 this year. Theatre Project's annual budget is roughly $350,000.

Mark Wasserman, secretary of DEED, said in a statement that his department is committed to fulfilling "100 percent" of the currently budgeted grants.

Last year, arts organizations lost 10 percent of the grants that the state decided to postpone because of similar reasons.

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