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Fort Worth Considers Deep Cuts To Arts Budget

(credit: CBS 11 NEWS)

(credit: CBS 11 NEWS)

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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - Everyday, after school inside the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, students gather to learn about music and theatre.

Tuesday afternoon, the group is rehearsing a few numbers for a big production they’re working on in October.

“I like how I can just express who I am and not just hide it inside me,” says 11 year-old Esther Felds.

She’s part of “Kids Who Care,” a non-profit international theatre company for kids interested in theatre education and performance.

This year, the program could be in jeopardy.

The City of Fort Worth is looking to cut the arts program by 25% which would bring the Arts Council budget to just over $537,000.

Tuesday night, dozens showed up to voice their concerns over budget cuts at city hall.

“People like us will lose funding for the ways we bring kids here who can’t afford to be here at all,” says Deborah Jung, Executive Director of “Kids Who Care.”

“There are between 20 to 25 thousand kids who come here in this theatre without a charge. All the funding that the city is helping any of us with is making sure we are reaching the full city and not just those with money in their pockets.”

Other groups, like Fort Worth Opera, are also feeling the budget crunch.

“It does affect our education programming. We take shows in schools, to elementary schools all over Tarrant County,” says Darren Woods Fort Worth Opera’s general manager.

Woods also points to the economic impacts and says his organization is responsible for a lot of tourists every year.

“That is putting tax money into the city. That is helping pay for the fire and police department,” explains Woods.

Mayor Price says the city is trying to close a $49-million gap and right now it has to think about what’s best for everyone.

“The things that they really need — public safety, good roads, clean water — the real essentials,” says Mayor Price. He adds that the city has provided free facilities to the Arts Council. “Over the last 10 years we have given the arts $40 million.”

There is another public meeting about the budget next Tuesday.
City Council is expected to vote on the budget and the possible cuts later next week.