Cuts in Cuyahoga Arts & Culture Funding Revealed

Cigarette tax arts funding in Cuyahoga County is heading down [Image / Cleveland Botanical Garden]
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A record 257 arts and cultural organizations in Cuyahoga County will share nearly $12-million in funding from a cigarette tax, this coming year.  Who gets what was announced in a public meeting Monday night.  But,  not everybody is celebrating, because that tax income is on a steady downward trend.

The Cleveland Orchestra is getting about a 26 percent cut in funding due to dwindling cigarette sales.  Speaking for the Musical Arts Association which governs the Orchestra, David Hooker says the cut took his organization by surprise.

"We think the fair way to go about this is to show us how they reached that conclusion," he says.  "The fair thing to do is to let us all see what they’re doing.  And we don’t feel like we’ve got those answers yet."

Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC) distributes the smoking tax revenues, and they announced planned funding cuts, last month.  But, CAC said the larger cuts this cycle are part of a ten-year program that will soften over time and promote a level of budgeting predictability for the grantees.  

"Ultimately there are less dollars to go around," says Tara Turner, speaking for the Cleveland Botanical Garden.  She adds that the 32 percent cut to her organization’s grant this year was tough, but they knew something like it was coming.

"We have to accept that fact and we have to be grateful for the money that we’re getting from them and will be getting from them in a very consistent way for a period of time."

85 percent of this round of grants will go for General Operating Support (GOS) for organizations like the Botanical Gardens and the Orchestra.  Although there is a 20 percent reduction in GOS funding overall, CAC calculates the "average reduction in grants to individual organizations is about 14 percent".  Some will get higher cuts, some cuts will be lower, and some organizations are actually getting more money this round.  

The remaining 15 percent of funding announced Monday supports special projects, ranging from the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival to the West Creek Conservancy.

CAC executive director Karen Gahl-Mills argues that her staff made a concerted effort to inform all stakeholders of the pending cuts.

"But, it’s difficult news," she acknowledges.  "And we understand that difficult news is sometimes hard to hear.  We are absolutely committed to talking with organizations about this financial decision, helping them understand how it plays out for them." 

Gahl-Mills says CAC will hold a public meeting in January to discuss that decision and to figure out ways to improve the process. 

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The biggest proportion of the cigarette tax revenue is devoted to General Operating Support (GOS).  Here is a comparison of the funding allocations for the last round of grants versus the new amounts:


Yearly grant amounts for 2015, 2016 & 2017

Yearly grant amounts for 2018 & 2019

Apollo's Fire, the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra



Art House



Artist Archives of the Western Reserve






Beck Center for the Arts



Broadway School of Music and the Arts



Center for Arts-Inspired Learning



Chagrin Valley Little Theatre



Cleveland Botanical Garden



Cleveland Choral Arts (North Coast Men's Chorus)



Cleveland Institute of Art



Cleveland International Film Festival



Cleveland Jazz Orchestra



Cleveland Modern Dance Association (DANCECleveland)



Cleveland Museum of Art



Cleveland Museum of Natural History



Cleveland Music School Settlement (The Music Settlement)



Cleveland Play House



Cleveland POPS Orchestra, Inc.



Cleveland Public Theatre, Inc.



Cleveland Restoration Society



Community Partnership for Arts and Culture



Contemporary Youth Orchestra



Dobama Theatre



Eleanor B. Rainey Memorial Institute (Rainey Institute)



Great Lakes Museum of Science, Environment & Technology (Gr. Lakes Sci. Ctr.)



Great Lakes Theater



GroundWorks Dancetheater



Heights Arts Collaborative, Inc. (HeightsArts)






Inlet Dance



Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA-Art Conservation)



Karamu House



Lake Erie Ink: a writing space for youth



Lake Erie Nature & Science Center



LAND studio



Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage



Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Educational Foundation



Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland



Musical Arts Association (The Cleveland Orchestra)



Near West Theatre



Piano Intl Competition of Northeast Ohio (Cleveland Intl Piano Competition)



Playhouse Square



Professional Flair, Inc. (Dancing Wheels)



Progressive Arts Alliance, Inc.



Roots of American Music



Shaker Lakes Regional Nature Center (Nature Center at Shaker Lakes)






The Children's Museum of Cleveland



The Cleveland Opera



The Musical Theater Project



The Northern Oh. Children’s Performing Music Found., Inc. (Singing Angels)



The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc.



The Sculpture Center



The Shaker Historical Society



Ukrainian Museum-Archives



Valley Art Center



Verb Ballets



Western Reserve Historical Society



Zygote Press



Total allocation for the GOS program







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