Hillsborough County Commissioner Patricia Kemp joined Art in Your Ear last Friday to talk about how another commissioner would like to reallocate funding from the Arts Council to address roads in unincorporated Hillsborough.
“This was brought up very seriously in something called future items…Commissioner Donna Cameron-Cepeda said (at the end of the meeting) ‘I want a report on the Arts Council and Cultural Assets Commission funding’ … and take this funding and use it for roads.”
While there are budgetary issues with this idea (the monies are in two separate budgets, so it can’t be reallocated from one budget to another), the larger picture is ignoring the positive impact the Arts Council funding has on the economic and cultural success of Hillsborough County. Small, medium, and large arts organizations rely on some funding (WMNF received some Arts Council funding this year). Many established and emerging artists use grants to purchase equipment, promote their work, or take classes. It is a vital part of being a professional artist of any medium.
Economic studies consistently illustrate the outsize impact that government spending on arts and cultural activities have. This spending is magnified within communities, directly creating thousands of jobs. Indirectly secondary and tertiary jobs and businesses grow because of arts spending (think everyone piling into restaurants after seeing a concert, or shopping local stores along an art walk),
On Thursday, September 7th, the County Commission will be discussing the defunding, around 10:15am. If you are interested in speaking before the council on this topic, you have to sign up before 9am. You can do it in person at 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa (downtown) or register digitally here.
In addition, another item pulled from the consent agenda by Commissioner Cameron-Cepeda was a matching grant from the state of Florida. The state is offering $66,000, a slight increase from the previous year, and the county has to approve an additional $2,500 in matching funds. That grant is now also in jeopardy.
You can also write the whole Board of County Commissioners through this link. Several of the commissioners are at large, meaning they represent the whole county. It would be a good idea to indicate that you support the Arts Council funding in the subject line.
This article will be updated with economic information. You can listen to the interview here, starting about 40 minutes into the program.