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Arts Council Boosts 1987-88 Budget Request

August 23, 1986|ZAN DUBIN

SACRAMENTO — The California Arts Council agreed Thursday to seek a $17.4-million budget for fiscal 1987-88 (beginning July 1, 1987), a 29% increase over this year's $13.5 million budget.

If approved by the Legislature and Gov. George Deukmejian, the budget increase would be about five times larger than the 6.3% budget increase that the state's arts funding agency won this year.

During Thursday's session at the State Capitol library and court building, council chairman Stephen Goldstein said the budget proposal represents "a large increase, but it still won't meet all our needs."

However, the council simultaneously voted to set a long-range budget goal for itself: by 1990 the council hopes to increase spending on the arts to $1 for every state citizen.

The state now spends about 49 cents per person on the arts, considerably less than several other states, including New York, which now spends about $2.50 per person on the arts, according to the National Assembly for States Arts Agencies.

"Well, it's a beginning," said council director Robert Reid in an interview after the meeting.

A line-item allotment of $200,000 for a new grant program appears on the new budget proposal, signaling an important and historic addition to council operations. The funds are requested for an individual artist program which the council has worked to install, often facing fierce resistance from the legislature and the public for most of the council's 10-year existence.

Goldstein, who has said he wants to leave the new program as a legacy when he departs the council in December, noted that the council had originally wanted to ask for a $1 million allotment.

"But even this amount is worth it to get this program started off," he said. "We've got to start somewhere, however modestly."

Council member Bella Lewitzky, director of the Los Angeles dance company that bears her name, called the sum "totally inadequate." But, she said, "the fact that this program now exists in the budget at all--if we get the money--is by far the most important fact about this budget item."

Reid said the entire proposed budget will be sent to the state department of finance for evaluation and "cuts and chops" by Sept. 12.

Although Thursday's meeting adjourned before lunch, the council took action on various grant programs.

It approved grant awards totaling $107,500 for 10 artists from throughout the state who competed in the council's art-in-public-buildings program. The program supports the creation of art works such as monumental sculpture and murals for state building projects.

As part of that project, the council awarded $10,000 to each of four artists commissioned to collaborate with state architects to create a thematic art plan for 26 Bay Area Caltrains stations. Caltrains is a state commuter line running from San Francisco to San Jose.

Three other artists were commissioned to produce works for the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Sanctuary near Monterey Bay.

The council also approved a roster of 131 performing artists in music, dance and theater for funding in 1987-88 under its $600,550 performing arts touring-presenting program, which brings California artists to rural, suburban and inner-city areas.

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