In the money
Allocations for arts and community organizations reduced
Erin Wade was one of the artists who received city funding last week during the Chico City Council’s all-day budget session despite the city’s dire economic condition.
“It’s very important to me because this is not something I could do on my own,” said Wade, pointing out that the $74,593 total allocation for the arts, when spread across the city’s population, adds up to less than a dollar per person per year.
“It’s a small amount of money, less than one police officer,” she said, referring to officers’ average salaries, pegged at $97,000.
“I don’t like to weigh these things, but we could have twice the number of police officers and that wouldn’t necessarily make Chico a better place,” Wade said. “What makes Chico a great place to live is the funky art scene and the cool things we have here.”
At that June 18 marathon budget meeting, the Chico City Council approved a number of requests for the funding of local artists, community organizations and community events. Those annual requests get recommendations from, respectively, the Arts Commission, the Finance Committee and City Manager Brian Nakamura.
Reflecting the tough economic times, each recommendation was less than the amount requested. And in deference to cuts to city services made earlier in the evening, the council further reduced the recommended allocations by 2.54 percent, a figure reached in a rather convoluted manner during consideration of community-organization funding.
The big winner for a piece of that pie was the Chico Creek Nature Center, which asked for $65,000, by far the largest request, and was recommended by the Finance Committee to get $42,057. But the City Council, acting on a motion by Councilman Sean Morgan and amended by Councilwoman Tami Ritter, further reduced the request by 18 percent, leaving the nature center with $34,492. The unallocated money was to be kept in the city’s general fund.
While the Nature Center took the brunt of the cuts, the council figured that an 18 percent cut, if spread across the 19 organizations that applied for community-organization funds, would equate to a 2.54 percent cut for each. That established the benchmark for the rate of reduction applied to the arts, tourism services and events allocations.
The next highest allocations for community organizations went to Innovative Health Care Services ($19,693), Rape Crisis ($17,796) and Chico Community Children’s Center ($14,410). Boys & Girls Club of the North Valley made a first-time request of $20,000 and received $5,344. The total in requests added up to $285,246, and $207,243 was handed out, down from last year’s total of $220,103.
Funding for artists and organizations added up to $74,593, down about $900 from last year. Seven artists applied for $2,000 “mini-grants,” but only three got recommendations from the arts commission and were allocated their requests, minus the 2.54 percent or about $50. Those artists are Hannah Hinchman, Aamir Malik and Wade, whose upcoming project will include a series of sculptures in Lower Bidwell Park depicting the problem of invasive plants in the park.
During the budget session, the City Council also approved spending $5,250 to conduct a survey to determine the economic impact the arts may have in the community. The survey will be conducted by an organization called Americans for the Arts, and questions will be asked of those attending various art shows to find out where and how they spend their money in town.
Eleven arts organizations requested money. The top three allotments—minus the 2.54 percent—went to the Chico Arts Center ($9,179), the 1078 Gallery ($8,919) and the Blue Room Theater ($8,491).
In the area of economic development and tourism, the Chico Chamber of Commerce, 3CORE and the Downtown Chico Business Association, working together to provide business services, asked for and received $60,000; the chamber’s request for its tourism effort for $38,000 was granted. Innovate North State asked for $40,000 but did not get a recommendation from the city manager; neither did Upstate Community Enhancement Foundation, which requested $10,000 to market next year’s Artoberfest to promote art projects through the month of October.
The city’s Friday Night Concert series was granted $15,350, while Chico State’s request for $5,000 for the annual Chico World Music Festival and the Chico Area Recreation District’s $2,000 request for the 4th of July celebration in Bidwell Park did not get city-manager recommendations.