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Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 11:42am

Arts Lobby Gearing Up For Budget Fight

Non-profit arts organizations around the state have stepped up lobbying efforts to restore funding for the Georgia Council For The Arts.

The 17.8 billion dollar budget which passed the state house this week eliminates the agency. It would make Georgia the only state without such an arts organization.

Susan Weiner is head of the Council. She says the arts are misunderstood and need to be viewed as an economic engine.

“Every dollar the state gave us in fiscal 2009 our clients returned $3 dollars and 75 cents in revenues," she says. "We’re not costing the state of Georgia money. We’re returning the state of Georgia money.”

The council gives out grants to non-profit arts organizations especially in small towns and rural areas. They range from $600 dollars to $60,000 dollars, depending on the program or event.

Elimination of the agency could also mean the loss of money from the National Endowment For The Arts. Last year it gave Georgia $820 thousand dollars.

The NEA has strict guidelines on who will get their matching grants. NEA officials say currently no other arts organization in Georgia would qualify for those community grants.

The NEA's Victoria Hutter says they sent a letter to Georgia officials urging them to consider NEA funding criteria before deciding to eliminate the state's arts council.