Concerns over funding for the arts in New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) - While art has an impact on the individual, it also can impact an entire state through tourism and business growth.

“We rely heavily on state funding,” Alma Carrillo, Executive Director of the Buffalo Arts Studio, said.

Carrillo explains how her center is one of many that need money from the State’s Council of the Arts to survive.

Like many centers across the state, she is looking for an increase in its budget this coming session.

“I’m very concerned. I understand there are a lot of needs within our state. I do hope that people will see the value of how informative it is and how transformative the arts are to our community.”

At Tuesday’s Assembly Oversight hearing, lawmakers were more concerned over how the Arts Council manages taxpayer money. For example, a new $20 million capital grant program is expected to be awarded in a week.

It was supposed to be open to any art organization large and small. However, Assembly members point out that one fact was hidden from them.

“There was a half a million dollar match,” Mara Manus, Executive Director of the New York State Council on the Arts, said.

“A half million dollar match. So even though it was open to all size organizations through all parts of the state, that half million dollar match would have been an effective filter to eliminate the smaller organizations,” Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Saratoga County) said.

“You didn’t put the money in, we did. So it is, let’s just say, distressing to me the idea that there is a bureaucrat somewhere that no one knows their name and no one can call them will put limitations or conditions on the money when they weren’t the ones to put it into the budget. We were and as the chair of the committee, no one ever contacted me,” Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell (D-Manhattan) said.

Right now, the Council on the Arts receives a little over $4 million in funding and $42 million in art grants.


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