November 1, 2010; Source: Times Union | Local and state cuts, added to fewer ticket sales and less in donations from foundations, corporations, and large donors equals hard times for arts organizations in the capital region of New York state. This article, the first in a planned series entitled “State of the Arts,” in the Times Union, details how a number of arts institutions from the very small to the very large are faring in the face of reductions in nearly every funding stream.
The city of Albany may not give out any arts grants this year—a loss for 30 local groups totaling $350,000. Also the New York State Council of the Arts has made a 15 percent cut for this year, which may be followed by a 10 percent cut next year. In some cases those funding streams are not expected to rebound. Owen Smith, producing artistic director of Park Playhouse in Albany says, “I don’t see the money we used to be able to reliably depend on coming back . . . We’re going to have to learn to be independent” of past funding sources.
Brian Ritter of the Albany Symphony says that this is causing arts organizations to “hit the reset button”. The name of the game is to look carefully at how to do business differently—attracting new audiences with different approaches in an environment of enormous risk and, according to the Capital Repertory Theater, which has been approached repeatedly in the recent past, looking for more co-production opportunities.
Not all will be able to save themselves. The 36-year-old New York State Theater Institute which has lost 60 percent of its funding may be forced to close at the end of the year. We will keep an eye on this series and bring you installments as they appear.—Ruth McCambridge