Arts groups brace for funding cuts

Laura Sturza

Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra President Lynda Willner hates to

even think about how funding cuts will change her group’s ability to

bring free concerts to the city’s residents.


“We received a $7,000 cut last year,” Willner said of a city grant

that went from $16,000 to $9,000.

That was before the state’s $35-billion shortfall was announced,

and Burbank began looking at cutting 10% from all of its programs,


including grant funding.

Adding to the dire state of the arts in California, Gov. Gray

Davis’ proposals include a 50% drop in grants funding from the

California Arts Council.

“No agency in California will escape this,” council spokesman Adam

Gottlieb said.

The Victory Theatre Center has received funding from the state

council for more than 15 years.


"[That grant] has been cut twice,” Artistic Director Maria Gobetti

said. “We received an award and then received notice that it will be

cut by 5%, and may be cut again.”

Before the 5% cut, the theater was promised $4,000, down from

$7,000 the previous year.

Like other local groups, Gobetti cannot yet pinpoint how the

24-year-old group will adapt to the cuts.

Many of the groups fill in gaps left by an already artistically


ravaged school system. City grant money has funded John Burroughs

High School music programs -- covering transportation and operations

costs -- and Burbank High School summer band camps and scholarships.

Capital improvements for school theaters have also benefited from

city grants.

Other city programs that could see increased fees or decreased

programs include the Creative Arts Center and the Starlight Bowl,

said Mike Flad, director of Park, Recreation and Community Services.

“We’re heading into a budget crisis ... people should be prepared

for it,” Flad said.

Officials from the Media Dance Arts Center are concerned about how

they will fill the void left by reductions to state and county

sources that normally fund larger fine-arts groups. However, the

center’s dance classes might benefit from the lack of arts

programming in schools.

“We may see an increase as individuals will look for fine-arts

sources outside of school systems,” the company’s board president

Cindy Pease said.