Allied Arts facing across the board cuts

Allied Arts facing across the board cuts

September 10th, 2009 by Cliff Hightower in News

Fifteen different agencies across Chattanooga could see funding cuts after the city reduced its funding for Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga, the organization's president said Wednesday.

"We'd have to trim back across the board," said Dan Bowers, president of Allied Arts. "It would probably be an across-the-board cut of everything."

In its 2009-2010 fiscal year budget, the city of Chattanooga proposed trimming the amount it gives Allied Arts to $150,000, a 42 percent decrease from the $255,000 the group received last year.

"A $105,000 cut would affect any organization," Mr. Bowers said. "It would be a tremendous blow. We didn't see this coming at all."

Allied Arts also is scheduled to receive $150,000 from Hamilton County, according to the budget recently submitted to the County Commission by County Mayor Claude Ramsey.

This week, Chattanooga City Council members began discussing ways to restore some of the funding to Allied Arts after hearing about the organization's potential losses.

Allied Arts, a nonprofit organization established in 1969, helps fund the arts throughout Chattanooga and Hamilton County, including the Chattanooga Boys Choir, Chattanooga Girls Choir and the Hunter Museum of American Art, Mr. Bowers said.

Funding to those agencies could see a reduction of 5 percent or more this year if the proposed city budget cuts go through, he said.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, Chairman Jack Benson suggested that the city set up some type of grant program to match funds from other municipalities.

Councilwoman Sally Robinson said she did not think it viable for Allied Arts to go back to area governments asking for money, since most budget years began July 1.

"It's hard to amend a budget in the middle of a fiscal year," she said.

"That's true," Mr. Benson said. "But they can always reallocate."

Mrs. Robinson said the City Council will go line by line through the budget on Friday and, during that time, it might be able to find more money for Allied Arts.

"It's not a lethal blow. I don't think it will put them out of business," she said. "It's a crippling blow."

The council could look at making the cuts more "equitable" to agencies that receive funding from the city and the county, she said, and any agency getting more than $100,000 in city funding could be a subject for debate.

She said she would hate to cut money to some of the smaller agencies because they are "already on the ropes."

Councilwoman Pam Ladd said she agrees that there needs to be more fairness in cuts to city-county-funded agencies. Her solution, however, is to look more closely at agencies that are narrow in scope rather than those that offer a wide array of services for the most people.

She said she thinks some more funding could come to Allied Arts.

"I hate for one agency to be hit so dramatically," she said.

Mr. Bowers agreed that going back to local governments and asking for more money is not feasible. But it also would be tough to ask for more private donations, he said, since Allied Arts just finished its annual funding campaign in June and was able to raise $2 million.

"To go back to them now and try to glean this kind of money is not in the cards," he said.


* $2 million: Amount of money Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga raised in its private campaign this year

* $255,000: Funding Allied Arts received from the city in 2008-2009 fiscal year

* $150,000: Proposed city budget for Allied Arts in 2009-2010 fiscal year

Source: City of Chattanooga, Allied Arts


Agencies supported by Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga include:

* Arts & Education Council

* Association for Visual Arts

* Chattanooga Theatre Center

* Choral Arts of Chattanooga

* Ballet Tennessee

* Creative Discovery Museum

* Chattanooga African American Museum

* Houston Museum of Decorative Arts

* Chattanooga Ballet

* Chattanooga Boys Choir

* Chattanooga Girls Choir

* Hunter Museum of American Art

* Chattanooga History Center

* Chattanooga Symphony and Opera

* Shaking Ray Levi Society

Source: Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga