City axes local arts grants for next year

Molly Shore

Local performing arts groups will have to make do without some

much-needed funding in the coming year. Community Services, Park and

Recreation officials on Thursday announced plans to withdraw $77,000


in grant funding scheduled to be disbursed Jan. 1, citing $1.3

million in budget cuts for their decision.

The city did, however, award about $39,000 to 14 local

organizations -- including $10,000 to the Burbank Philharmonic -- to


complete the 2003 grant cycle, said Garth Nelson, deputy director of

recreation services.

Councilman Jef Vander Borght said any time there is a cut in

community services funding, it affects the future of community

cultural arts.

"[If you’re] faced with arts or safety services, you’re pretty

much left with little choice but to go for the basics,” Vander Borght

said of the council’s decision in June to suspend performing-arts



Although it was a difficult choice to make, Vander Borght said the

council voted unanimously to cut funding.

Tom Ormeny, who with his wife, Maria Gobetti, is artistic

co-director of Victory Theatre on West Victory Boulevard, said his

organization, as well as other local performing arts organizations,

have grown dependent on city grants.

“We are devastated,” Ormeny said. “It was a lifeline. We depend on


city funding to sustain our activities.”

Victory Theatre has been funded by the city for eight years,

Gobetti said.

“We received up to $10,000, she said. “This will be a significant

loss for us. It will probably mean that we won’t do one show.”

The theater has offered four to eight productions a year, and has

conducted 20 to 30 acting and writing workshops annually.

The Media City Ballet Company received the minimum grant award

last year, ballet company president Cindy Pease said.

“If those funds are not subsidized elsewhere, we have to cut back

on the number of productions that we do, and the number of school

outreach performances we do,” Pease said. “It also reduces the number

of seats we’re able to give out to lower-income students, who

normally could not afford to see a fine arts performance.”