April 14, 2010; Atlanta Journal Constitution | Picture this: if a budget approved this week by the Georgia House holds, the state could hold the dubious distinction of being the only one in the nation without an arts agency. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the Georgia Council of the Arts (GCA), already facing a cut from $2.32 million to $890,735 in state funds, would be eliminated under the proposed plan, and the only money for arts would drop to $250,000 and be administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Some are calling this move a classic case of being penny-wise and pound-foolish.  Notes Allen Bell, program director for the regional arts organization South Arts, the shuttering of the arts agency would cost the state any grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, which last year totaled $812,00.  In addition, South Arts, which awarded more than $100,000 to arts groups over the past two years, would similarly cease funding in the state.

Speaking about the damage this move would have culturally, as well, GCA’s executive director Susan S. Weiner said, “I’m profoundly saddened. I’m sad for the nonprofit arts industry in the state of Georgia, which is huge. I’m saddened for our individual artists who earn an income from these nonprofit arts organizations . . . But I’m really sad for Georgians who recognize the value of the arts and participate in them.”—Bruce Trachtenberg