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PA Senate Votes to Eliminate Arts & Cultural Funding

(May 6, 2009) -  This afternoon, the Pennsylvania Senate passed its version of the FY 2010 state budget (SB 850) with a 30-20 vote.  The bill, introduced on May 4, eliminates all arts and culture grants in the state through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC).

The budget process isn't complete yet, however. This Senate bill now goes with the House of Representatives' proposal into what will likely be a contentious conference committee before its final passage in the General Assembly. The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance will keep you informed as the budget process continues.

The process began in February, when Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell presented his budget proposal. In it, the allocation for the PCA's Grants for the Arts (the line item that includes familiar programs such as AOAP, Preserving Diverse Cultures, Program Stream, and Project Stream) was proposed at an 8% cut for fiscal year 2009-2010. That would bring the funding level from $15.225 million to $14 million.  PHMC's funding was also cut, and its Museum Assistance Grants Program, which supports hundreds of museums, history, and heritage sites across the state, was zeroed out.

The Governor's proposal has been met with rising financial challenges in the last few months. Original estimates placed Pennsylvania's revenue gap at $2.3 billion for the current fiscal year. Over the past 3 months, that anticipated shortfall has grown more than $700 million.

What does that mean? It means that both the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives are looking for things to cut in order to close the widening revenue gap. Many programs have been targeted for elimination, and that list now includes all funding support for arts and culture.

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