Richmond Arts Groups Dodge Budget Bullet — For Now

James Ham, Untitled; Courtesy NIAD

James Ham, Untitled; Courtesy NIAD

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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Cyrus Musiker

Cyrus Musiker co-hosts The Do List and covers arts and politics for KQED News and The California Report.  His work has been recognized by the Society for Professional Journalists with their Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Journalism. Cy is a graduate of Hampshire College, and has a Masters in Journalism from UC Berkeley. He worked in the wine business in New York City and Napa Valley for almost a decade before he found his true calling as a radio newsman. When he can find time, Cy loves to run in the East Bay Hills with his dog, swim in Tomales Bay, and hike in the Sierra.

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