The DC Council increased its budget allotment for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities by $6.8 million after months of campaigning by organizations including Cultural Tourism DC.
In the last three years, the Commission’s budget has been cut from $13 million to $3.9 million annually. This year’s projected boost in funding – about $11.9 million - will be helpful for the DC arts community.
The DC Arts Community has been without adequate funds for several years, said Linda Donavan Harper, Executive Director at Cultural Tourism DC. “We are thrilled with this end result.”
In order to justify the increased budget, arts organizations like Cultural Tourism DC, the Creative Coalition, the DC Arts Collaborative, Cultural Alliance, theatreWashington, and the Cultural Development Corporation, looked at the numbers.
“It wasn’t about ‘the arts are a good thing,’” Harper said. “ It’s about the arts are about jobs and they bring money back to the city.”
As part of the campaign, the arts organizations asked people to write letters and sign a petition, which garnered more than 1,500 signatures in about a week. The Council still needs to vote on the final budget, which is scheduled for June 5 and the funding would also be guaranteed for just this year.
“We were at risk of losing arts entities in the city,” Harper said, if the budget was not increased. “The problem is, we are still in the edges of a recession, and every arts organization has tightened its belt as tight as it goes.”
Despite uncertainty about future funding, Harper believes the increased budget is critical.
“Because we haven’t had the funding, this is a real opportunity for the [DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities] to think of new ways to use the money.”
As for what people should do now, Harper says people should write and thank the Council for the increased budget, and insist that they approve the new budget on June 5.
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