Cultural Council Of Jacksonville Seeks More Than $1 Million Funding Increase

Aug 16, 2018

The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville is asking the city to increase its investment in arts and culture by more than $1 million. 

Its director argues the city’s investments in arts and culture have remained relatively static for the past 16 years or so, despite Jacksonville’s rapidly growing population.

Last year the Cultural Council got $2.8 million from Jacksonville. That’s what was in the city budget as of Thursday, when the City Council Finance Committee took it up. About $2.4 million of that was regranted through the Cultural Service Grant Program to 26 organizations last year, and 27 organizations will benefit from that money this year. Full disclosure: WJCT is one of the recipients.

This year the Cultural Council is asking the city for $3,946,440 to go towards the grants, and $53,000 for the Art in Public Places Program. That represents a $4.27 investment per Duval County resident, based on 2017 US Census data.

Tony Allegretti, Executive Director of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, said that increase of more than $1 million in funding would make up just 0.08 percent of the city’s budget. The total economic impact of the organizations that would benefit from that funding is estimated at nearly $83 million, Allegretti said.

In Thursday’s city Finance Committee meeting, District 14 Councilman Jim Love spoke on behalf of the Cultural Council to encourage an increase in funding for arts and culture. The Cultural Council didn’t get what it had applied for in the proposed budget, which Allegretti said has happened every year since 2002, but he’s still hoping for the full asking amount by the time the budget process ends in a few weeks.

At that point, Finance Committee members will have a conversation about how much money is left in the budget, and then they’ll discuss programs and services that committee members want increases or enhancements for. Once they’ve decided where the additional money will go, their selections will go before the full City Council, where the final decision will be made.

Allegretti said if the Cultural Council gets what it wants, almost every arts and cultural organization funded through CSG has said it will create jobs.

“They would certainly add programming,” Allegretti said. “We would just have those quality-of-life events and programs that are so important to Duval County.”

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.