The Carmel Common Council held first reading an ordinance last Monday night which, if approved, would send $1.6 million to arts organizations in the city, including $840,000 for the Center for the Performing Arts.
The subsidy would be the second major funding infusion into the arts organization in the last year – the Center received $5.5 million from the Carmel City Center Community Development Corp. (4CDC) last fall, which is projected to run out by June 30.
Speaking to the council prior to the ordinance’s hearing, interim Center CEO Frank Basile stressed the Center’s commitment to reducing its dependency on city funding.
“To reduce city contributions, we are focusing on increasing contributed income,” Basile said, adding that ticket sales for the 2012-13 season already amount to $1.1 million. “We do not believe there is much potential for cutting expenses. Out of necessity, when I became the interim CEO we did cut the budget by around $1.5 million, reduced staffing by 13 and realigned four departments, among other things. We are operating efficiently on a relatively small staff for this size organization.”
The grant would be a substantial increase from the city’s previous arts funding budget of $270,000, a level set two years ago following concerns from some council members as to how deficits at the Center would be paid for. In presenting the funding ordinance, Mayor Jim Brainard attempted to alleviate some apparent concerns of the council.
“If you take out our city-owned facilities – the Tarkington, the Studio Theatre, the Palladium – what I’m proposing is still only about 1 percent of the general budget,” he said. “I’ve worked this into our multi-year fiscal plan. It still fits within the plan. And I think that … our arts initiatives are having (an impact) on economic development, not only from patrons going to restaurants, but also in terms of our ability to attract companies from other places to Carmel to be permanent property tax payers, to be permanent employers.”
In addition to funding for the Center, the ordinance would provide additional monies to 16 other arts organizations in the city, among them the Actors Theatre of Indiana ($55,000), the Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre ($30,000) and the Carmel Symphony Orchestra ($200,000), all resident companies of the Center.
A motion to have first reading on the ordinance was unanimously approved. It will now go to the Finance, Administration and Rules Committee before returning to the council for a second reading.