Md. fund for arts grants shrinks

Local groups receive $30,493 less than last year

`It's been a very tough year'

August 20, 2002|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,SUN STAFF

Hard times cut this year's Maryland State Arts Council budget by 11 percent, ending a seven-year trend of increases and dropping available grant money by $700,000 since last year.

"It's been a very tough year," said Theresa M. Colvin, the council's executive director. "We're in an economic downturn, and certainly the revenues for the state have decreased. The arts council took a proportionate cut, but we still feel very lucky."

The council received $1.6 million less in fiscal year 2003 (which runs July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2003) than it did last year, but the grants it gives out dropped only an average of 7 percent - from $10.1 million in fiscal year 2002 to $9.4 million.

The money was split among 289 county arts councils and area organizations.

Howard County received $264,948 ($30,493 less than last year); Anne Arundel County, $341,073 (down $17,436); Baltimore City, $5,030,543 (down $434,700); Baltimore County, $290,724 (down $18,256); Carroll County, $97,222 (down $5,355); and Harford County, $117,329 (down $11,631).

For every dollar granted, organizations must match it with $2 from another nonstate source.

The money, which is distributed based on application and merit, can be used for every thing from general operations to existing arts programs and projects, along with the development of new ones.

"Without it, we wouldn't be here," said Frances Motyca Dawson, founder and artistic director of the Columbia Pro Cantare, one of 19 grant recipients in Howard County. "It helps us pay for each rehearsal, pay for our soloists, pay for our orchestra and our staff. In short, it helps keep us going forward, now into our 36th year."

Although significant at $11,733, the state arts grant to Pro Cantare is not its biggest source of funding. That comes from the Howard County Arts Council (HCAC), which received $80,169 in Maryland grant money.

About a third of that will be redistributed within the county, said Amy Poff, HCAC's deputy director. The rest will be split between administration and overhead costs and program development.

A recent study by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development estimated that arts generate $765 million and more than 17,000 jobs in the state.

"The arts have a lot to offer," Colvin said. "They surround us with beauty and build our communities. Many art centers serve as the anchors in a community, generating tourism and traffic and attracting young people with a vibrant cultural scene. They're very important."

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