In December the City Council unanimously approved the new Cultural Arts Master Plan which has been in the works since the spring of 2017.
For the second time a presentation was made to the City Council about this new plan. Unfortunately there was not a single member of the City Council interested enough in what it would cost to implement the plan to ask the question.
Both presentations to the City Council concentrated on how inclusive the planning process was. Meetings were held in every district. The minority representation on the various committees was high. Lots of people were contacted and gave their opinion on something.
When asked about the cost of the plan, City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “The way it was presented to me, it would go to [City Manager] David Parrish to decide how it would be implemented and if it could be implemented for what we are spending now.”
City Councilmember Justin Outling said that in his opinion one of the reasons the plan passed unanimously was, “There wasn’t a request at that time to make a decision in regard to money.”
Outling said that the discussion about funding would come later when the city manager came back to the City Council with the details of how to implement the plan. Outling said that one benefit of the cultural arts planning process was that people were made aware of how much the city currently spends on the arts, such as the Cultural Arts Center which provides space in a city owned building for arts organizations for $1 a year. He noted that one of the recommendations of the plan was to make better use of the Cultural Arts Center.
It’s a little hard to fathom how the City Council could think that the Cultural Arts Master Plan could be implemented without the city spending more money. The very first recommendation is, “Establish a City of Greensboro Office of Arts and Culture dedicated to arts and cultural development, full-time management position reporting to the Office of the City Manager.”
Translated that means create a new Arts and Culture Department within the city government. The director of the new department of Arts and Culture is going to require office space and support staff and none of that is cheap.
Then there is the recommendation that visiting artist programs be established in different departments. Visiting artists are not free either. Throughout the plan are recommendations that the city create new programs or supply more funding for current programs.
In fact the plan itself recommends that a countywide sales tax increase or a food beverage tax be considered to provide the funding for this new department and an increased focus on the arts.
The City Council approved the plan unanimously and if the City Council intends to implement the plan, it is obviously going to require an increase in funding for the arts. It would have been helpful, if someone on the City Council had at least asked for a ballpark estimate on what it would cost if all the recommendations in the plan were implemented.