Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Amid cutbacks, efficiency is priority

The Poughkeepsie Journal reported on the impact of the proposed NYS budget, which includes reactions from the arts, public universities, and local cities:

Issue: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed cutting grant funding for New York State Council on the Arts by about 10 percent, from $35.2 million to $31.6 million.

Impact: Many community arts programs in Ulster and Dutchess counties are funded with NYSCA grants, said Benjamin Krevolin, president of the Dutchess County Arts Council. The Dutchess County Arts Council under the 2010-11 state budget distributed $20,250 in NYSCA grants to arts organizations in Dutchess and the same amount to those in Ulster. The funding went to such projects as a street painting festival in Tivoli, free concerts at Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie and the Wassaic Project in Amenia, which converted a former agricultural facility into space for artists.

NYSCA funding allocated under the 2010-11 state budget and distributed by the Dutchess County Arts Council also accounted for $13,945 more in Arts in Education grants, split among Dutchess and Ulster groups, Krevolin said. The money funded a mural project in Dover Elementary School and a rock opera at Onteora High School, among other projects.

"Someone is going to get left out," Krevolin said of Cuomo's proposed funding cuts. "Someone's not going to have the opportunity to build their community, to bring in a festival or an event or a program that's going to spur economic development or improve education."

Eve Biddle, co-director of the Wassaic Project, said the $2,000 her organization received each of the past two years was used for outreach and artists honorariums.
"A small cut," she said, "can have a big effect."

Higher education
Issue: Reductions in aid to the State University and City University systems would be 10 percent. Benefits under the Tuition Assistance Program would be kept at the same levels. Proposed legislation would enable SUNY to streamline its procurement processes and establish public-private partnerships.

Impact: Donald Katt, president of Ulster County Community College, said the 10 percent cut would represent a $500,000 cut in funding to the college. The figure, he said, would compound the effects of a $1 million budget cut from the prior fiscal year.


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