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Phoenix arts advocates scramble to protect at-risk groups

[Source: Arizona Citizens for the Arts] — Phoenix arts advocates, like supporters of numerous other programs facing the spectre of significant budget cuts, have expressed concern for the following programs “on the chopping block:”

Pueblo Grande Museum is facing proposed reductions including elimination of a museum curator, museum assistant, two museum aides, a secretary and a semi-skilled worker.  Special events, summer programs and lectures will be reduced by 50 percent; and school tours will no longer be available, and maintenance of landscaping and surrounding grounds will be reduced.

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture grants budget of $890,000 will be cut by 50-75% or more. These grants along with grants from the state arts commission are typically the only source of unrestricted funds these organizations receive and have been the only source of stable funding they could count on for years to help provide affordable programs to the community.  The city’s grants budget over the last 20 years has never been lower than $460,000.  These reductions will take us well below that number — and with the growth of the city population and inflation over these 20 years, the support given to arts organizations will be dismal, at best. (Imagine how long it would take to rebuild to the current level of support.)

The Heard Museum, which relies heavily on sales made at its famous gift shop has seen a significant reduction in sales, forcing huge budget cuts and program reductions mid-year.

The Shemer Arts Center, a community arts center and Phoenix Point of Pride, is facing closure.

The Phoenix Center for the Arts, an affordable arts education facility, serving local emerging artists and arts organizations and located in the heart of the city is facing budget cut of 70%, essentially shutting down most of its programs serving students and artists.

Many large and small arts organizations have begun staff reductions and layoffs including the Phoenix Art Museum, the Phoenix Symphony, Ballet Arizona, and Free Arts of Arizona which serves young children, among others.

Due to these drastic budget shortfalls, grant guidelines have been rewritten at the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture.  These will result in elimination of funding to any organization that is not producing arts or located within the city will be cut.  Organizations who’ll see no further grants from Phoenix include Free Arts of Arizona, Herberger Theater Center, Boys and Girls Clubs, Habilitation Center, Artability, Childsplay, and local arts agencies such as the North Valley Arts Council and the West Valley Fine Arts Council.  [Note: For more information from the Arizona Citizens for the Arts, click here.  For City of Phoenix budget hearing information, click here.  For related Arizona Republic article, click here.]