Jacksonville, FL — It’s about taking a thriving sector, and bringing it to the next level.
That’s what the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville has to say about their request to Jacksonville’s City Council to give them more grant funding to distribute, with budget hearings set to kick off in the coming days.
“To show that cultural investment in our city, and the arts and culture sector, and all these great organizations that are doing great work, are invested in,” says Cultural Council Executive Director Tony Allegretti.
The Cultural Council's budget in Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry's $1.2 billion budget proposal stays flat year-over-year, at close to $2.85 million. Of that, there is some funding for Art in Public Places and money for the Cultural Council to administer the grant program, leaving about $2.4 million in actual grant funding to distribute. Allegretti says they've had more arts and culture organizations coming forward to seek that funding- with the total now at 27 groups- and the dollar amount is not increasing to accommodate that.
“Every year that we have level funding, the amount of funding for individual orgs goes down,” he says.
He says the ordinance that the Cultural Council operates the grant program under says that eligible organizations should get funding, so they make a point of supporting those who qualify. The grants are for operational funding, with Allegretti saying they support the Jacksonville Symphony, the Cummer Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Science and History, and many others.
“Every cultural event that you attend in Jacksonville, typically is supported by these grants,” he says.
Allegretti says the arts and culture sector is thriving- both creating jobs and quality of life in the City. He believes that giving more funding and support for these organizations would have “profound” results.
“We want to do good work, we just want to do more of it,” he says.
The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee is poised to begin their deep dive of Curry’s budget proposal, which will include hearing requests from organizations like the Cultural Council on why they should get more funding. Allegretti says they’re asking for an additional million dollars, to bring them back to a level they were before facing years of cuts and flat funding.
Curry and the Council are not raising your property tax rate this year, so finding the additional money for the Cultural Council would take some maneuvering within the funds that are already allotted. In a budget that Curry says prioritizes public safety and infrastructure, that could prove to be a difficult battle.
Allegretti says they’re thankful to be a part of the City budget and to have the continued investment. He says when the City budget has been tight, they haven’t fought, but they’re holding out hope for a little more this time.
“Hopefully, there will be some way to convince them [City Council members] that this extra, tiny part of the City budget is worth the while,” he says.
Allegretti is also calling on you to support the arts and culture, and do research on which lawmakers do as well. He says funding from the State was “slaughtered” this year, and he’s hoping to find more support in the future.