Arts and entertainment programs throughout Missouri and in Chillicothe are threatened by decreased funding for next year as legislators address state budget issues.
Gov. Jay Nixon has recommended $4.2 million in new money for the Missouri Arts Council, plus the $600,000 core from last year. The House Budget Committee is looking at a figure smaller than that. A vote is expected this week.
Arts supporters are seeking an amount they say would be fair to the amount of money generated through arts programs.
Carol Gregg, of Chillicothe, serves on the governor-appointed Missouri Arts Council and is the president of Missouri Citizens for the Arts. She recently testified before the House and Senate appropriations committees, urging for adequate funding for the arts.
Julie Ashbrook, administrator of the Chillicothe Area Arts Council, has also urged the House Budget Committee to support the arts.
This year, the two percent Missouri tax on out-of-state entertainers and artists should have generated $30 million, of which 60 percent should go to the Missouri Arts Council, at $18 million, Gregg said. Arts supporters are seeking just $4.2 million, which is the governor's recommendation.
By Missouri law, the local arts council must "collect" that two percent tax.
"Since we have no leverage as a small town arts council, we pay the tax ourselves," Ashbrook said. "Out-of-state entertainers' contracts all say we cannot deduct a state tax from the entertainer's charge."
For Chillicothe, that adds up to several hundred dollars each year.
That money is then put into the state's general revenue fund. Then, it must be transferred by the legislature into the Cultural Trust for the Missouri Arts Council. (The Cultural Partners don't get Trust Funds, but get monies directly from the legislature.)
In Missouri, arts bring in revenue, and not just in Branson, St. Louis, Kansas City, or Columbia, Ashbrook stated. Last year, people from Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, and Iowa, and from 80 Missouri zip codes, came to events in Chillicothe to enjoy arts performances.
"The arts are a good investment on all levels across the state," Ashbrook said. "On event days, the money that folks spend on sales tax and gas taxes go back into the Missouri general revenue, as they should."
The Missouri Culture Trust Fund was created to fund the arts in Missouri by the Missouri legislature. Funding for the Missouri Cultural Trust Fund is from the Non-Resident Professional Athletes and Entertainers Tax Missouri Statute. The tax is collected by the state of Missouri and, by statute, a designated amount is to be distributed among several cultural partners.
Full funding of the trust fund and the cultural partners has been a challenge, Gregg said. Because of budget cuts over the last three years, the Missouri Arts Council has continued to serve more than 624 arts organizations throughout Missouri. In FY 2011 and FY 2012, the state appropriated no new funds, and in FY 2013, MAC received $600,000 in new funds.
In order for the Missouri Arts Council to continue funding arts programs, the organization used funds from the Missouri Cultural Trust Fund. They also reduced funding for arts programs by over 50 percent during the past three years.
At the end of FY 2013, the funds in the trust will nearly be depleted — only $1.1 million will remain, which will not continue to sustain funding for the Missouri arts organizations, Gregg said.
The Chillicothe Area Arts Council, which is funded through several sources, received $18,618 in grant money for arts programming last year from the Missouri Arts Council.
The local organization provides community performances and artists in school residency programs. Representatives say the local arts program touched more than 16,000 people last year.
The revenue stream from the arts is also impressive when looking at the real numbers, Gregg said. "In the past 2011-12 season — in Chillicothe alone — we had a $519,429 total industry impact," she said. Of that amount, $23,933 went into the state government revenue, and $20,906 went into the local government."