Red alert on arts

Sacramento arts advocates sounded the alarm even before City Manager Howard Chan released his 2019-20 budget proposal on Wednesday.

It includes $580,000 for the Creative Edge cultural plan adopted by the City Council last year, but arts leaders say that isn’t nearly enough to expand arts education, offer programs in underserved neighborhoods or reach the plan’s other goals.

The final spending plan approved by the council could still include more arts money. The person who sent the alert last week is Dennis Mangers, an adviser to Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and he says he did it with the mayor’s blessing. Steinberg plans to speak about the arts funding and the “creative economy” at The Atrium at 7300 Folsom Boulevard on April 29.

Arts groups can also compete for the projected $50 million a year in additional Measure U money from the half-cent sales tax increase that voters approved last November. Mangers, however, said arts groups will be at a “great disadvantage” going up against powerful unions and political action committees, such as those supporting more money for police and fire.

Mangers says the $580,000 is a “good start,” but in the electronic alert he sent to “all artists and arts supporters,” he says that without much more funding for the arts, it would be another “betrayal” for Sacramento’s arts community, the alert says.

“The economy is strong, and revenues are high,” the call to action says. “If they do this to us now, what will they do when the inevitable recession hits? The arts are a core city service, every bit as important as police, fire, public works, parks or any other sector of city responsibility.”

Overall, the proposed 2019-20 budget totals $1.2 billion, including $588 million for the general fund and Measure U fund, which covers most basic city services.

Chan says his plan shows the city’s commitment to inclusive economic development and to youth programs with an additional $29 million. While the city’s revenues are being boosted by strong economic growth, he says the city still faces rising pension and other retiree costs, plus aging infrastructure.

The first public hearing on the budget is scheduled for April 30. The council is scheduled to adopt the budget on June 11.

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