The Georgia General Assembly is considering cutting all funding for the Georgia Council on the Arts.

Artists march on state Capitol to preserve funding

The move has appalled artists and arts supporters, who are marching on the state Capitol on Monday to protest the decision. The march starts at 1 p.m. at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts and ends at the Capitol building.

“We artists have been dormant for far too long,” organizers of the march write on their Facebook page. “Now, we must take it to the streets. Join us for a march on our ‘representatives.’”

The House Appropriations Committee has voted to eliminate the arts council’s budget for fiscal year 2011, according to the Georgia Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, which is lobbying against the move.

If the state Senate and Gov. Sonny Perdue approve the budget without the arts funding, Georgia would become the only state without a statewide arts council or agency.

“Georgia will lose tax money that is reinvested in our state through the National Endowment for the Arts. This money is entirely contingent on the GCA budget being at least $900,000. This money from the NEA funds programs in every Georgia county,” the assembly stated.

Monday, April 19, 2010
1- 3 p.m.
Start at The Rialto, march to the Capitol.
80 Forsyth Street, NW 
Atlanta, GA

Actor’s Express, an Atlanta theater company, often includes LGBT-themed works in its season. It is one of many arts agencies that will be impacted if the Georgia Council on the Arts is eliminated, and leaders stress that the cumulative economic impact could be tremendous.

“Actor’s Express received approximately $8,000 this year to provide services to Georgians, reaching over 15,000 individuals and employing approximately 100 artists, technicians and administrators,” the theater company said in a press release. “Private funds in the form of ticket sales and contributions make up the rest of our $690,000 budget, almost all of which is invested locally in salaries, set and costume materials, printing, advertising, etc — a large return for a small public investment.  The same economic impact is true for every organization that contracts with GCA.”

The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus also receives some of its funding through the Georgia Council for the Arts.

Perdue’s budget proposal granted $890,735 to the Georgia Arts Council for the next fiscal year, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but the House cut the funding completely. That was down from $2.32 million in the current budget, and $4.18 million the year before.

“The only state arts support that would remain if the GCA is eliminated is $250,000 in granting funds that would be transferred to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to administer,” the AJC reported.