There was better news than expected last night for arts funding in Richmond.

The city council approved a tentative budget that makes cuts to public safety and other services, but provides the same support as last year to the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts and to NIAD — an arts center for the disabled.

“We’re definitely going to have a celebration,” said NIAD Executive Director Deb Dyer.

Support for the popular Richmond Arts Center was cut by about a quarter — to $275 thousand. But RAC Executive Director Richard Ambrose says that’s a better fate than expected. “We’re hoping that we can tighten our belt a little bit, but not eliminate any programs.”

Over the past two weeks, supporters flooded council members with letters and emails backing the center’s programs in the Richmond schools, which serve about 500 kids annually.

“And that really is what generated the support from the city to really try to find additional funds for the arts,” Ambrose said this morning. “Particularly our program that we reach out into the community giving kids the opportunity to expand their creative skills.”

Ambrose says he will turn to funders to make up the budget shortfall of $100 thousand, about ten percent of the RAC’s annual budget.

Ambrose and Dyer say they’re still worried that Richmond may well face a similar deficit next year, and that councilmembers won’t be so generous.

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