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Dear Friends of the Arts,
We have good and not so good news to share with you. First the good news, it appears that funding relief for arts organizations will be included in the economic stimulus bill making its way to President Obama for signature into law. A portion of those funds will flow through the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Watch for details.
Now, for the not so good news:
*On Thursday we learned that Governor Lynch’s proposed biennium budget for FY 10-11 calls for a 50 percent decrease in state funds for the State Arts Council, from a total appropriation this year (FY09) of $882,000 down to $448,000 next year (FY10) and $466,000 the following year (FY11).
*That includes the loss of 4.5 staff positions, a 50 percent cut from our current staff of nine. One of the positions that will not be funded under the plan is that of the Director.
*The 50 percent cut in state funds will mean a 50 percent cut in federal funds from the National Endowment of the Arts, as well, as NEA grants to state arts agencies require a dollar for dollar match.
The state legislature will be taking up the proposed budget soon. The following hearings, where members of the public will be able to address the House Finance Committee, are planned:
- March 9 Salem, Salem High School, 6 p.m.
- March 12 Claremont, River Valley Community College, 6 p.m.
- March 16 Whitefield, White Mountain High School, 6 p.m.
- March 17 Concord, State House, 4-6 p.m.
The House version of the budget will go to the Senate in early April. The Senate will craft its own version of the budget and a committee of Senate and House members will convene to resolve any differences. The budget will then go to the Governor who may choose to sign or veto it. The final biennium budget must be in place for the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, 2009.
This is the start of a long, difficult process for the state to come up with a budget that respects the fact that we are in difficult economic times, but still preserves essential state functions. We maintain that support for New Hampshire’s artists and arts organizations connects the arts to people who live in and visit New Hampshire. We think that supporting that vital connection is essential.
Rebecca Lawrence, Director
Division of the Arts
February 20, 2009