Arts in Lucas County: State funding down, federal funding upWritten by Morgan Delp | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As state funding for the arts has decreased in Lucas County, federal funding has increased.
The Ohio Arts Council recently released its 2010-11 biennial report, which details how much funding was given to each county, artist and cultural arts organization in Ohio, from the state and federal governments.
“Our organization has been more aggressively going after federal funding,” said Marc Folk, executive director for Toledo’s Arts Commission.
Lucas County saw its state funding decrease by $25,974 from 2006-07 to 2008-09, from $981,012 to $955,038. In the same time frame, the overall amount granted by the state of Ohio fell by more than $1 million.
From 2008-09 to 2010-11, the county’s state-provided art funds again decreased dramatically, reflecting further decreases in statewide funds as well. In 2010-11, Lucas County received $592,522 of the state’s $13,188,580, a $362,516 decrease, or a 60 percent drop in a four-year span.
“(Funding) has been going down over time as the economy has plunged nationally and within the state,” said Kathleen Carroll, president and CEO of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.
For the previous three biennial periods, about 20 percent of the state’s arts funding has gone to administration while the other roughly 80 percent has gone to general subsidy.
Folk said the Arts Commission, along with artists and other cultural arts organizations, used to get general operating support from the City of Toledo. The city would provide $600,000-$900,000 to the local arts community and the Arts Commission would receive about $100,000, of which they used $40,000-$60,000 to match with private money to be granted to other organizations, Folk said.
Carroll said this changed after 2000-01.
“When the city went through hard times, they eliminated cultural funding,” Folk said. “That was a pretty big setback.”
Folk said Toledo is the only metropolis in Ohio that doesn’t have a dedicated funding stream for arts and culture. As an example, he said cigarette taxes in Cuyahoga County help fund the local arts community.
Since 2006-07, federal funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has risen. In 2006-07, Lucas County received $2,937 of the federal government’s $1,598,600 arts funding for Ohio. In 2008-09, Lucas County’s share of the NEA’s $1,788,500 for Ohio rose to $9,404.
2010-11 saw the most drastic increase, as Lucas County received $57,712 of the state’s $2.51 million dollars.
“We’ve been working with a group of the region’s arts and cultural leaders, called the Toledo Area Cultural Leaders (TACL), once a month. We report on federal opportunities with the National Endowment for the Arts,” Folk said. “The chair of the NEA has reached out to different departments … to create a deeper understanding of how artistic places inspire businesses, draw more talented youth, increase the economy. They work with other agencies to have art programs added to grants.”
“Organizations must apply to receive grants from the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) either every year or every two years depending on the grant program,” Amy McKay said in an email. McKay is the Public Information Office Director at the Ohio Arts Council.
“Each OAC grant program has a set of evaluation criteria used to assess applicants. Each application is held up against the evaluation criteria and the applications that are recommended for funding are scored,” McKay said. “The scores are averaged and then presented to the OAC’s board members, the only body empowered to approve grant awards on behalf of the OAC.”
Benefits of the arts
McKay said programs are evaluated to make sure they are serving their intended purpose.
Carroll said she commends the OAC for their push to make the state government aware of the benefits of the arts.
“I’d say that citizens of Ohio should be proud of the work done by the Ohio Arts Council. They have been a force and exemplary [model] for arts councils across the country. In Columbus, the council held its own,” she said.
Folk said the next biennial budget will rise almost $4 million above the
$13 million the state provided in 2010-11.
Even with this state increase, Folk said the Arts Commission is looking at ways to increase its funding and expand the arts in Northwest Ohio.
“Our board has made it a priority to find a way to create a funding stream to create grants to support the community and strengthen the arts in Northwest Ohio, whether it be through the endowment or other mechanisms,” Folk said.
The Toledo Symphony Orchestra relies on the government for .01 percent of its operating costs.
“[Government funding] is not something we count on. Our biggest source is revenue from ticket sales and community generosity,” Carroll said.
“It’s not easy, everybody has taken an enormous hit (from the economy),” she said. “We put a plan in place and our musicians took a 6-12 percent cut at the start of recession. Our service has not diminished to any degree.”
Carroll said she believes it is the arts culture of Toledo that makes it a unique city.
“Any community can have roads and streets and infrastructure. But when people come to Toledo they remark about the art museum, the quality of the orchestra, the opera, the zoo, the metroparks, the ballet,” Carroll said. “All of those make us unique, livable, desirable.”
The biennial report is available online at oac.ohio.gov.