Historic Veto Eliminates Arts Funding for Pinellas County

Let’s make our voices heard and elevate our advocacy for the arts.

The news late last week regarding a historic veto to nearly all arts funding by the State is incredibly disheartening, and amounts to a loss of millions in arts support for Pinellas County. These funds would have supported 663 arts and culture organizations across the state, and in Pinellas County, one of the largest cultural destinations in Florida, nearly 50 arts organizations.

Creative Pinellas remains committed to meeting the needs of our cultural community. Thousands of you are helping us do that already through your input and leadership on the county’s cultural plan, which will be launched by the end of this year. We will continue to advocate for the growth of our arts and cultural community by building and strengthening alliances between all investors in the arts.

We will continue funding and showcasing the artists who live, work, and create in Pinellas County and look to securing funding opportunities for arts organizations. In short, as we continue to strengthen our cultural community, we invite everyone to do the same.

Arts money does so much more than allow us to enjoy a performance or visit a museum, and now is the time to invest more heavily, rather than less, in our cultural community. According to a recent report by Florida Cultural Alliance, every $1 spent on the arts generates $9 in economic activity, a remarkable return on an investment.

Because it bears repeating, I invite you to revisit the Economic Prosperity Report commissioned by Americans for the Arts, which highlights just how valuable the arts are to the Pinellas County economy. You can read the full report here or peruse some important points below:

  • The arts employ thousands of people in Pinellas County. More than 4,500 people work for cultural institutions or make their living through the cultural economy
  • The arts generate millions in tax revenue:
    • $10 million in tax revenue goes to our local economy
    • Over $10 million in arts-generated tax revenue goes back to the state of Florida
    • Federal tax revenue generated by the arts totals more than $38 million

This $58 million in tax revenue has an impact far beyond our cultural sector, helping to build roads, fund schools, and support the infrastructure of our county.

The arts help stabilize neighborhoods, support education initiatives, foster a greater awareness of the world around us, and most crucially…provide vital revenue for artists and arts organizations.

A small sample of the more than 40 organizations and their programs whose funding was vetoed include:

  • Traditional music and dance classes taught by the Lao Arts and Cultural Foundation in unincorporated Lealman
  • At the Dunedin Fine Art Center, these budget cuts will impact the ability to pay teaching instructors and artists who serve over 6,000 community students – of all ages – annually
  • Cultural programs at the Warehouse Arts District, like their Juneteenth presentation of “The Shout,” a workshop on the history of gospel

Programs such as these, and more, allow us to celebrate our unique arts landscape, as iconic as our famous beaches and sunsets, that so many have worked tirelessly to build.

The obstacles being placed before us are regrettable, but there is an undeniable strength and deeply held belief in the power of collaboration that will help us continue creating and continue building toward a more vibrant future for the arts. It’s heartening to know that there is, at the local level, a true understanding of the value the arts brings to our community.

Unfortunately, there is little recourse to reverse the state’s decision at this moment in time, but we do still have a voice. Please continue supporting the artists and arts organizations in your neighborhood. Now is the time to buy that piece of artwork or purchase tickets to the play you recently heard about. Collectively, we can amplify our advocacy for the arts and make our voices heard. Locally, where the true impact of the arts is felt, consider reaching out to your city and county commissioners to encourage their support. If you have the means, please make a gift to your favorite arts organization.

If you haven’t seen the full list of community arts organizations impacted by these vetoes, or would like to talk more about ways you can support the arts, please feel free to contact me at margaret.murray@creativepinellas.org.

As always, thank you for your steadfast support of the arts in Pinellas County and beyond.

Margaret Murray
CEO, Creative Pinellas

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