May 31, 2010; Source: Austin American-Statesman | With all the negative attention focused on how much state and local governments are cutting funding for nonprofits, creating new taxes or increasing existing ones, or doing other things in the name of cost-savings and revenue-generation, it’s refreshing to read about one enlightened city that, if not bucking the trend, is doing more giving than taking away.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, the city of Austin is offering a series of free workshops designed to boost the business practices of arts and cultural groups. The program is actually a continuation of something the city has been supporting the past four years. But earlier classes focused on what are described as “issues surrounding public art.” The latest offerings, based on feedback and surveys of artists and arts groups, deal more with matters that can help individual artists and arts organizations survive and thrive.

This summer’s workshop topics include grant writing, multicultural marketing and establishing a nonprofit corporation. Other topics will touch on the role of arts in enlivening business districts, cultural tourism, and destination marketing. The $38,000 program is operated by Austin’s Cultural Arts Division (CAD), and is funded with $15,000 in grants from the Texas Arts Commission and $20,000 from the National Endowment of the Arts. In addition, CAD is throwing in $3,000 from its own budget. While primarily targeted to arts nonprofits, the program’s organizers noted a class on using social media also attracted attendees from social service nonprofits.—Bruce Trachtenberg