According to NY State Council on the Arts deputy director Michael Royce and a story published in BackStage, out of a $66.1 billion proposed state budget, $39 million will go to the arts, with roughly $38 million going to the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), of which $27.9 million will be distributed to non-profit theatre, music, museums, dance and 10 other kinds of arts companies and programs in New York State.
On NYSCA's recommendation, Governor George Pataki has suspended the state's annual $5 million art's challenge grant for one year, while the Council reviews its function and efficacy. "We wanted to assess it," Royce told Playbill On-Line. "Just like in any business, we wanted to see whether the funds are going towards what constituents say the funds are used for. It is time to do an assessment." The $5 million will not be taken away from NYSCA's budget, it will instead go to "local assistance" (see explanation below).
Pataki's recommended 1997-98 budget has been submitted to the Legislature and should be voted on by April 1. For the past few years, says Royce, votes have been late, with last year taking until July to pass.
Here's how NYSCA's funding works:
The budget gets split into two parts, one for "local assistance" ($33,450,000, proposed) of not-for-profit arts organizations, the other, "state operation" ($3,350,400, proposed), for internal operations of NYSCA itself. These numbers would represent a 2% increase in NYSCA local assistance and a 1% increase in state operation. (Federal appropriations make up the extra million of the $38 million total NYSCA budget.) Royce says NYSCA is working on becoming a leader in arts technology for the theatre community, with $250,000 earmarked for NYSCA to use to develop telecommunications and digital technology. $600,000 has been set aside for the Empire State Partnership Program between the State Education Department and NYSCA to help students and teachers adopt 1996 Board of Regents arts learning standards.
"Budgets are incredibly confusing," admits Royce, "but this Governor is extraordinary supportive of the arts, with a history of arts support even before he became Governor. Last year was the first time in eight years that both categories of our budget received an increase.
--By David Lefkowitz