Ron DeSantis Vetoes Nearly All Florida Arts Funding

The financial blow comes at a critical time for arts organizations still recovering from the pandemic.

By: Jun. 18, 2024
Ron DeSantis Vetoes Nearly All Florida Arts Funding
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The Sarasota Herald Tribune reports that Florida arts and culture organizations are taking another financial hit as many are still focusing on post-pandemic recover as Governor Ron DeSantis has eliminated most state funding for cultural programs.

DeSantis vetoed nearly $1 billion from the $116.5 billion state budget before signing it in Tampa on Wednesday, including nearly $90 million the legislature earmarked for 669 different arts and culture projects and special line item programs.

It is the first time that no money will be allocated for arts and culture programs by the state.

“It is devastating. Unfortunate is too light a word,” said Richard Russell, general director of the Sarasota Opera, which stands to lose about $70,000 that was expected from the state grant program. “It is a lack of recognition of the economic impact that we have in our community and how much revenue we generate for the state.”

Economic studies have shown that every $1 spent on arts and culture programs generates about $9 more in related spending.

For decades, the state has awarded money to non-profit cultural organizations through a vetting process in four grant categories. This year, the legislature approved just $32 million in only two of those categories – $26 million in cultural and museum grants that support programming, and $6 million in the Cultural Facilities Grants, which provide money for building projects. Those totals were tens of millions less than the organizations qualified for from the vetting process.

In the cultural and museum grants category, organizations can qualify for up to $150,000 each year, but this year the legislature allocated only 47 percent of that total. And even that was eliminated with the governor’s veto.

“The cuts are a devastating blow to the arts and cultural community,” Brian Hersh, CEO of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota, said in a statement. The cuts represent a $3 million loss in Sarasota County, where the arts are one of the top employers. “It is disappointing to see the state budget eliminate support for the arts across Florida,” he said.

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