The Vermont Arts Council is asking the state to double its budget allocation in the next fiscal year. Without the increase, the council says it stands to loose a significant amount of federal matching dollars.
The arts council’s annual state appropriation has been close to $500,000 for the past decade, but the council says if it stays at that level, it will actually have less money in the fiscal year starting next July 1st.
That’s because the rules governing how much matching money the council receives from the National Endowment For The Arts are changing.
The council is asking the Governor to increase its state allocation from just over $500,000 to more than $1 million in the budget he’ll submit to the legislature in January.
Without an increase in state money, the council stands to lose between $175,000 and $250,000 in federal funding. The final figure depends on both the state’s budget allocation and NEA funding, which will be determined by the President and Congress.
Executive Director Alex Aldrich says the loss would have a big impact on the artists, programs and venues that are supported through the statewide council’s grants and collaborations.
"We will have to lose entire programs," Aldrich explains. " The only thing that we will be left with is what we’re doing in arts education. That’s going to radically change how the arts community at large looks at us and how we can serve them." Aldrich says over time the loss will have an effect on the 6400 people in Vermont who earn a living as artists and arts administrators.
Aldrich says the Governor and legislators have been supportive of his organization in the past decade at the same time appropriations in other states have declined. On a per capita basis Vermont ranks 19th in the country in appropriations to state arts agencies. New Hampshire ranks 43rd and Maine is 33rd.
The council’s total budget from all sources varies from year to year but ranges between $1.4 and $1.9 million dollars annually.
Aldrich says a nearly 100% increase in the state allocation sounds significant, but the numbers aren’t that big compared to the overall state budget.
Note: This story has been modified to correct the amount of money that the arts council possibly stands to lose. The loss could be between $175,000 and $250,000.