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Arts Will Take a Hit in Dallas Budget – But Less Than Expected

by Jerome Weeks 15 Jun 2011 12:56 PM

Dallas’ cultural centers funded at 80 percent of the current level, an increase of $1 million for the AT&T PAC, maintenance and repair at 14 city-owned facilities cut by 50 percent.


KERA’s BJ Austin reports:

Arts and culture still take a hit in the latest Dallas budget proposal – even though the “shortfall” news is better.

The previously projected budget shortfall of $79 million has shrunk. City Manager Mary Suhm says a better outlook for property taxes, as well as state and federal budget mandates, adds about $27 million back into the budget.  Bottom line: this month’s projected budget shortfall for next year is $52 million.

Suhm says there will still be program cutbacks and layoffs.  Today’s budget workshop includes this information about Arts and culture:

  • City Performance Hall to open in 2012

City cultural centers funded with program funds at 80% current year level; 14 cultural facilities are supported including an increase of $1 million for AT&TPAC; and cultural services contracts are funded at 75% of current year level.

  • “Isn’t Funded” highlights

Cultural programs not funded include 20% of program-related expenses at 5 cultural centers, 50% of funding for facility maintenance and repair at 14 city-owned facilities, and 25% of cultural services contracts to arts organizations

Councilman Ron Natinsky asked about the Majestic Theatre., which just about broke even this year.

Here is the Q&A between Natinsky and  City Manager Mary Suhm:

Suhm: Interestingly enough, we’ve about broken even on the Majestic this year. And that would be our plan for next year, too. We are running it and booking it ourselves, and it’s almost broken even this year, so that’s our intent to continue. I’ve got some other options I’d like to pursue with that, but they’re more complex and it’d take a while.

Natinsky: My concern and my question to make sure that we don’t find ourselves trying to — so that we make money, we cut maintenance and other moneys that are needed to make it a useful facility. I don’t want to save ourselves to prosperity, so to speak.

Suhm: The Majestic, while it’s not formally an enterprise fund, it’s operating that way. We cut back the expenses, and they’re making the money and we’re doing OK now.

Natinsky: That’s great, but I guess what I’m saying is because we may want to save, we may not have enough revenue, I’d be disheartened to find us —

Suhm: Not taking care of it.

Natinsky: Not taking care of it, and later saying, when we’ve got more revenue we’ll come back and take care of it.

Suhm: Gotcha.