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Mayor pushes for Arts Council funding cuts

Mayor Kristen Brown wants to cut taxpayer funding to the Columbus Area Arts Council. / Photo: WCSI File
Mayor Kristen Brown wants to cut taxpayer funding to the Columbus Area Arts Council. / Photo: WCSI File
Mayor Kristen Brown is considering cutting funding for the Columbus Area Arts Council (CAAC) in next year's budget.

According to a story from our news-gathering partners at "The Republic," over the past 10 years, the arts council has received $148,000 to almost $192,000 from the city every year. The organization has been using that money for salaries and expenses such as putting on its local concerts and arts events.

Mayor Brown says that's not what the money was originally for. She says that money was originally for operating the old Commons, which closed in 2000. The mayor went on to say that the city simply kept giving this money to the CAAC, even after the new Commons was built and operating responsibilities were given to the city's Department of Parks and Recreation. That essential means the city is paying twice for Commons upkeep.

Mayor Brown says she has no problem having the city fund certain arts projects and events, but she is against throwing taxpayer money into what she calls a "black hole of operating losses." With that, her proposed 2015 budget will require the CAAC to compete with other agencies for $50,000 that is only to be used for specific events.  

The mayor stresses that this should not have come as a surprise to the Arts Council. She says that she has been in discussion with CAAC leaders for over a year. Mayor Brown said that she tried to get 2014's grant dedicated to specific programs, as opposed to covering operating expenses, "but the Arts Council didn't want to do that."  

As for the money the city will save in this new budget arrangement, Mayor Brown says that there are several needs facing the city. She says her wish list includes three new police officers, new transit route on the city's west side, economic development to help fund a new industrial park, parks facilities updates, and more.

Last Updated: Monday, August 11, 2014 5:19:29 PM

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