Advocates of the arts in Rhode Island are reasonably satisfied with funding allocations in the recently enacted fiscal 2012 state budget because, even though there are no increases, significant cuts were avoided in a contentious budget year.
“I’d like to think that artisans and artists’ organizations have proven they are an important part of the state’s economy and its economy recovery,” said Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of the R.I. State Council on the Arts. “The arts, literally, are part of the Rhode Island brand, one of the things the state is best known for, and the arts provide a great return on the state’s investment.”
Lisa Carnevale, executive director of Rhode Island Citizens for the Arts, a 300-member group based in Pawtucket, noted that the state budget level funds the arts for 2012, providing the same amount as last year, $600,000 for RISCA grants. It is not an ideal situation, she agreed, but better than it could have been because arts advocates successfully fought off a $100,000 cut proposed by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee.
“The hurtful part of that cut is it would have come from [RISCA’s] discretionary-grants funding pool,” she said of money used to provide competitive grants to local artists and organizations.
As a result of the restored state funding, Rosenbaum said, his agency was able to provide 15 more grants than it could have otherwise, funds that he said went to community-based groups and local festivals.
In fiscal 2010, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 832 artists or groups applied for what would have been $5.7 million in RISCA grants, with 377 successfully winning the $2 million available in state and federal funds.
Each dollar in RISCA grant support generated $14.80 in total spending by arts organizations in fiscal 2010, Rosenbaum said, basing this ratio on information gathered from the final reports submitted to RISCA by grant recipients following completion of their projects.