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The Art of the Matter

After sitting for an hour and listening to the arts community cry bloody murder about proposed cuts in funding, I decided to go check and see how much they actually get from the taxpayers.  Back in May the City-County Council passed an ordinance giving the arts groups more than $1.5 million.  Here’s a breakdown of what each organization received.  The number in parenthesis is how much of the grant makes up their operating budget.

  • American Pianist Association – $35,000 (2.27%)
  • Art With a Heart – $10,000 (4.32%)
  • Asante Children’s Theatre – $10,000 (4.32%)
  • Big Car Media – $3,000 (4.99%)
  • Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – $85,000 (1.04%)
  • Claude McNeal Production – $3,000 (0.88%)
  • Clowes Memorial Hall Butler University – $41,000 (1.28%)
  • Dance Kaleioscope – $56,000 (4.77%)
  • Eteljorg Museum of American Indian Western Art – $85,000 (2.22%)
  • Encore Vocal Arts – $10,000 (11.34%)
  • Festival Music Society – $7,000 (4.48%)
  • Footlite Musicals – $5,000 (0.94%)
  • Freetown Village – $40,500  (26.22%)
  • Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre – $16,000 (4.48%)
  • Harrison Center for the Arts – $12,000 (2.82%)
  • Heartland Truly Moving Pictures – $20,000 (0.61%)
  • Indiana Historical Society – $13,000 (0.13%)
  • Indiana Repertory Theatre – $85,000 (1.93%)
  • Indiana State Museum Foundation – $61,000 (0.55%)
  • Indianapolis Art Center – $62,000 (3.04%)
  • Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra – $44,000 (7.37%)
  • Indianapolis Children’s Choir – $35,000 (2.75%)
  • Indianapolis Civic Theatre – $49,000 (3.10%)
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art – $85,000 (0.53%)
  • Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art – $9,000 (2.02%)
  • Indianapolis Opera – $71,000 (2.91%)
  • Indianapolis Symphonic Band – $9,000 (19.21%)
  • Indianapolis Symphonic Choir – $85,000 (0.86%)
  • Indianapolis Symphonic Orchestra – $71,000 (2.91%)
  • Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival – $10,000 (2.70%)
  • IndyChoruses – $3,000 (3.16%)
  • InterAction Theater – $8,000 (15.81%)
  • International Violin Competition of Indianapolis – $40,000 (3.90%)
  • Madame Walker Theatre Center – $15,500 (0.99%)
  • Motus Dance Theatre – $5,000 (8.60%)
  • Music for All – $27,5000 (0.50%)
  • New World Youth Orchestras – $8,000 (4.09%)
  • Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis – $16,000 (6.36%)
  • Phoenix Theatre – $40,000 (8.06%)
  • Pike Performing Arts Center – $6,000 (1.72%)
  • President Benjamin Harrison Foundation – $5,000 (0.85%)
  • Primary Colours – $7,000 (10.50%)
  • ShadowApe Theatre Company – $4,000 (7.02%)
  • Storytelling arts of Indiana – $31,000 (11.71%)
  • Summer Stock Stage – $3,000 (4.22%)
  • VSA arts of Indiana – $52,000 (4.23%)
  • Young Audiences of Indiana – $62,000 (3.55%)

As you can see, most of what these organizations get from the city makes up a small portion of their actual budgets.  On average the city funds about 4.6% of the operating budgets of these organizations.   If they are going to go out of business over what amounts to basically an average 1.5% budget cut then maybe they should spend a little less time on art and more on math.


  • schoolboardgreg

    Even if the City-County Council was to cut the $1.5 million budget, won’t these organizations continue to receive — in total — millions of dollars from taxpayers by being exempt from paying their share of property taxes?

  • Dave

    PUBLIC FUNDING of anything outside the primary charge of government, public safety, sewers, roads, etc., is a misappropriation of trust and the PEOPLE’S property, be it income or real property.

    No amount of emotional parading of human difficulty, gives government the right to impose or redistribute difficulty to other citizens, as an unwarranted taking; in the oxymoronic form of forced donations, “supported” by the presumptive arrogance, to tell the public what is “art.”

    This issue isn’t about art, children, or transcendence, it’s about adults who make a buck on the backs of taxpayers. Supporters of the arts need to invest themselves in education, by reading the State & US Constitutions, and enrolling themselves in business courses to learn about marketing & fund raising; efforts that would take them farther, than does panhandling at the public trough.

  • Greg

    100% agreement with Dave. Follow the money. It is all part of the age old scheme of those on the inside providing for each others pet projects on the backs of everyday working stiffs. Shame on them. Let them cut loose with some of their own money.

  • http://edangleton@edangleton.com Ed

    Speaking of doing the math I get a total of about 862,000 for the agencies specified (and which were named in the fiscal ordinance). Where’s the other 637,000?

  • Daw-g

    I knew from days ago the 1.5 million was a drop in the bucket of these organization’s kitty. I like the exposure this is getting. The exposure may one day be used to axe not 1/3 of the arts budget but all of it.

  • Greg

    Folks, we need to ride this one all the way to the end. Just remember, it is a chosen few who are tucking money like this away for their own club members. One hand washes the other. Only common citizens can influence real change, and then only by demanding it with the power of the vote.

  • John Howard

    Ed, that’s (at least partially) the administrative overhead.

  • Moneyguy

    The sad part is all the money wasted on the Lucas Oil Dome. If the Colts turn mediocre then the taxpayers will pay for all the empty parking spaces and seats. Still not sure whose picking up all the cost overruns and maintenance. Sports trumps the arts in our society. Maybe the artist and their patrons should turn to the Lilly Endowment, the Simon Family or the Irsay Family. 1.5 million would be a drop in the bucket for them.

  • http://edangleton@edangleton.com Ed

    That’s a lot of overhead. The city would be better off just writing its own checks and distancing itself from the Arts Council.

  • Bart Flies

    According to my math, this piddly amount of money makes up only about 1% of the city’s budget. So using your exact words, Abdul:

    “If the city is going to go out of business over what amounts to basically 1% of its budget then maybe they should spend a little less time in city hall and more on math.”

  • http://hoosiersforfairtaxation.blogspot.com/2008/09/beret-tribute-to-arts-city-council.html Melyssa

    I organized a fundraiser and in one night raised $500 or $600 for Big Car…and had drinks while we were doing it. We were barely thanked for it. This spending is nuts.
    Not only that, but if they hired good marketing/sales/fundraising types and paid them a cut of what they raised…they would be fine.
    Problem is NO ONE wants to work for what they get. They just want the hand out.
    I volunteered to help Asante with fundraising. The director turned down my help.
    And there you have it.

  • http://hoosiersforfairtaxation.blogspot.com/2008/09/beret-tribute-to-arts-city-council.html Melyssa

    Why not put a call out to the nation’s artists that we’ll give them FREE space for public installations. Then let people buy it. There are a lot of up and coming artists with serious talent that can’t get anywhere significant to show their work.
    People aren’t thinking. They just line up with their hands out.