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Budget Proposal Would Slash Arts Funding In Fort Worth

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The City of Fort Worth is considering slashing funding for the arts in its upcoming budget. People in the arts community are asking the city to remove them from the city’s general fund budget altogether.

From performance halls to art galleries, the city of Fort Worth’s proposal to cut a quarter of a million dollars from the arts is hitting a sour note within that community.

Fort Worth’s budget proposal would slash more than 25 percent from the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County’s one million dollar budget. That would have a direct impact on the performing arts funded by the council.

“Any cuts to the symphony directly affects our financial health and we wouldn’t have any choice but to cut our programs which enrich this community,” said Amy Adkins, president of the Fort Worth Symphony. “Most people don’t know we perform 200 concerts a year for 220,000 people including 70,000 children. Music education is a huge driver in that and funding that we receive from the city through The Arts Council funds those education programs.”

The arts compete directly with the fire department, police, libraries and parks in the budget.

Now, The Arts Council is asking to be removed from the city’s coffers altogether. Instead, it wants to be funded by the city’s hotel tax. Many other Texas cities fund their arts programs that way already.

Supporters of the arts say it’s a huge draw for tourism and should be funded by tourist dollars. The internationally known opera, for example, has season subscribers from Europe. Even symphony Concerts in the Garden have a tourism impact.

“We found the total economic impact on the arts in Fort Worth is about $84-million,” said Arts Council President Jody Ulich. “And that’s conservative.”

The hotel tax fund is running a surplus of about $1.5 million this year.

The Arts Council says with even a slightly larger budget, Fort Worth’s arts scene would no longer be one of the city’s best kept secrets.

“The city of Philadelphia just put together a $3 million campaign to say, ‘Hey, come look at our arts here’,” Ulich said. “We could do that to because, frankly, I don’t think our arts here are second to anyone.”

The battle now will be convincing the city council funding for things like the symphony would fit more harmoniously with the city’s hotel tax fund. The Arts Council would likely be competing against the Will Rogers Center and convention center for those surplus funds.

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