Friday, February 26, 2010

House votes to cut Arts Commission

The Virginia House of Delegates has approved a budget that cuts and subsequently eliminates funding for the Virginia Commission for the Arts. Despite intensive lobbying by arts groups, "no amendment was offered in the House to restore money" for the commission, Tyler Whitley and Jeff E. Schapiro report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

In the House budget, the commission would have $2.23 million (a 50 percent reduction from current funding) to distribute in grants before shutting down as of July 1, 2011. The House budget must be reconciled with one passed by the Virginia Senate, which appropriates $4.46 million for the commission in each of the next two years.

Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, currently $1 million annually, would be lost if the state shuts down its arts agency.

The legislature is supposed to approve a two-year budget before its current session adjourns; adjournment is scheduled for March 13. Gov. Bob McDonnell then may call for revisions to the budget. The governor's budget proposals called for a 26 percent decrease in funds for the Arts Commission.