Mayor: budget cannot eliminate arts

August 12, 2008
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And so the Indianapolis arts community exhales. There's still $1 million in the budget and there's less chance of our town being seen as culturally regressive.

But what's the underlying message from Mayor Ballard's budget speech?

Is it simply that cuts have to come from everywhere and the arts are no exception?

Is it that the the arts community (including its patrons) voiced itself so loudly that the outcry was heard and larger cuts were spared?

Or is it that stirring an "everything will be cut" panic makes the significant proposed cuts seem like a gift?

What message do you take from the Mayor's proposed budget and its "We cannot eliminate the arts" words?

And what do you think will really be different about the Indy cultural landscape a year or two from now?
  • Hoosiers For Fair Taxation just reported that arts administrators earn more than the governor and mayor.
  • Like others, I was pleasantly surprised that Mayor Ballard singled out arts funding for a mention. It seemed as if he wanted to establish a connection between the arts and economic development. By mentioning it in a short, six-minute speech, he definitely was sending a message to the Council that arts funding - while it had to shoulder its share of cuts - should not be eliminated in the long term.

    What the Council does with this message, and how Councilor Cockrum's rhetoric changes about zeroing out arts funding in the next three years remains to be seen.
  • Don't the Sheriff and IMPD chiefs each make more than the Mayor and Governor?
  • The concern is not just the enormous percentage of the cut (35%) in comparison to other parts of the budget but the lack of rhetoric about finding a solution.

    Is anyone in city government looking toward other cities that have made the arts central to economic and cultural development? Denver is just one of many examples. They found a different tax situation from which to develop cultural funds. If someone isn't looking for potential models for improvement, we should be asking why?

    No matter what the justification - and public safety is one -- the arts community is being devalued and needs to let the council and Mayor know that ongoing cuts will hurt outreach programming and infrastructure so important to our many arts organizations.
  • Tough economic times call for touch decisions and prioritizing. Pot holes aren't being filled in this city in a timely manner, and they are a higher priority. I like the arts, but not at the cost of ignoring necessities. I bet the homeless of this city prefer more attention first too.

    Now should the arts have been given a higher priority than subsidizing Lucas Oil stadium for a rich business called the Indianapolis Colts (owned by a very rich man)?

    In my opinion, yes.

    (And I like the Colts - but they should be no more subsidized by the government than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - which is very little except for adequate roads around it and public safety such as police and fire.).
  • Art projects should be halted in times of economic hardship. I'd much rather see roads repaired and crime levels controlled than a new flashy sculpture that only relates to the 'progressive' community in the middle of the city. Art is an important part of our culture, but so is transportation and maintaining a city.
  • Socrates#1fan, it's not an either-or proposition. After all, for years we have had public safety, filled potholes AND the arts.

    As John Picket eloquently put it, let's get creative in finding ways that BOTH can be funded. Many cities have gone with a slight increase in the hotel/motel tax to fund the arts--even 0.15% (that's fifteen one-hundredths of one percent, a teeny amount) added to the hotel/motel tax, which does not affect resident taxpayers, and directed towards the arts would help a lot. (someone else please do the actual math on that, I don't have access to the proper figures) Let's educate hotel concierges better about the arts offerings in the city, so visitors can find their way to arts events and pay full price so that arts organizations can use more of their own money to fund outreach programs for locals or subsidize tickets for local patrons.
  • Well JM - you say we had both but I beg to differ with you on that. We PAID for both but crime has gotten worse and our city is seriously lacking in funds now from years of art AND public safety. There must come a reckoning at some point and that day is here.

    The whole country is suffering right now - people everywhere are suffering. I love the arts and hate to see the money taken away, but at the same time, where was that art money going? If it was in fact going to either the IMA or the Children's Museum or any other organization that has plenty of money to fund their own programs, than that's just silly. I think we can redirect the money remaining in the budget to the neediest art programs with the largest impact and still do okay.

    We've got to do what we can right now. Obviously neccesities are not getting taken care of so we have to cut. I'm not saying it doesn't suck, but maybe it won't be this way forever.

    Also - agree 100% with Mark Rutherford. The stadium deal was a raw deal for the city. Thanks Irsay!
  • The salaries for the 4 Arts Council employees don't come out of taxpayer money, they come from private donations.

    The Arts Council is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization governed by a volunteer board of directors.

    The 2.55 million that comes into the arts council from taxpayer money goes right back out in the form of grants:

    I$2,480,650 for Arts Funding, $101,750 for Creative Renewal Fellowship, and $388,775 for Regional Arts Partner Grant Recipients. The $2.4MM and $101k are a direct pass-though of arts money from the city budget (looking at the 2006 budget, the amount was $1,543,500). The remaining $1MM came through the Capital Improvement Boards budget, which is separate from the city budget. The $388,775 is state money, not city money.


    I fully support using public funds to support and develop art and culture in Indianapolis. Indianapolis nonprofit arts organizations generate over $468 million annually and are responsible for 15,000 jobs and $52 million in local and state tax revenue (see for more information).
  • CIB funds these salaries and it is not private. Do not insult the intelligence of the people of Indy by trying to deceive us. There needs to be a light and a microscope shoved far inside the parts of the CIB where the sun doesn't shine.
  • The original funding of nearly $1.5 million for the arts has been a small investment for a nearly half billion dollar return. We should be demanding more and not settle for the $ million Mayor put back on the table. Artists of all disciplines and arts advocates should be contacting their city councilman and showing up for city council meetings. We should learn the lessons from 21 years ago with how funding was accomplished in the first place. The Arts Council of Indianapolis didn't spring up out of nowhere. At the time, Mayor Hudnut quoted,

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