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Local Arts Agencies' Budgets Are Rising

America's 4,000 local arts agencies (LAAs) are experiencing budget increases and expanded involvement in community development.

Americans for the Arts, the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization, reports that budgets have increased an average 4.9% annually between 1993 and 1997, with more than two-thirds of local arts agencies receiving increases since 1989.

Local government support--the agencies' largest revenue source--has also increased by an annual average of 6.9% from '93-97. Private sector support to united arts funds are experiencing a third year of growth as well, the report stated.

Annual LAA budgets range from $100 to $108 million. The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs' (DCA) budget has hovered around $100 million, despite Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's consistent attempts to cut it. Last month, the mayor introduced his preliminary fiscal 1999 budget, which would drop DCA funding to $88.7 million, including a 40% slash in cultural programs, the funding for nonprofit arts groups, including theatres.

Arts and community development programming has also risen nationwide, with LAAs utilizing the arts to address issues ranging from crime prevention, youth-at-risk, and racism to economic development. The number of LAAs involved has grown from 61% in 1994 to presently 88%, including 100% of local arts agencies in the 50 largest U.S. cities.

More than 90% of LAAs cooperate with other public and private agencies in programs to "increase community livability," the report said. Examples include partnerships with economic development departments (40%), convention and tourism bureaus to promote cultural tourism (56%), parks and recreations departments to develop after-school programs (63%) and law enforcement agencies to help prevent crime (17%).

Americans for the Arts has released the LAA figures as a preliminary to publishing its entire report, "Local Arts Agency Facts 1998," later this Spring.

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