Carmel city council approves arts grants after cuts
By Pete Smith
The city council voted to approve local arts grants, but at a lower amount than what was proposed originally proposed by Mayor Jim Brainard.
By its own 10-year-old ordinance, the council can only contribute 1 percent of the city’s annual budget to fund the arts groups. And by the council’s estimation, the original grant proposal came in about $50,000 more than the 1 percent stipulation would allow.
After negotiations with the mayor and a separate action to restore the full city budget after cuts made by the state’s Department of Local Government Finance, the council decided to approve across-the-board arts grants cuts of 7.2 percent.
Some councilors like Kevin “Woody” Rider favored protecting the original grant amounts of arts organizations like Carmel Symphony Orchestra, Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, Actors Theatre of Indiana and Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre that actually work to fill seats in Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts.
That opinion did not hold sway, but it could become the foundation for a revised process for next year’s grants.
According to City Councilor Luci Snyder, the grants are part of a package of contributions. She notes that the city gives $2.5 million each year to support the Center for the Performing Arts and that it pays $50,000 to $60,000 per month for its expenses.
During negotiations in the city council meeting May 5, it came to light that the Carmel City Center Community Development organization had helped fund arts grants in the past when the city didn’t have enough money during the economic downturn – including a grant to the Carmel Clay Historical Society this year.
But Brainard said that was mainly because the worst effects of the recession were felt in city revenues in 2011.
The idea to have the 4CDC make up this year’s shortfall was not raised during the council meeting.