How Does Your Community Fund the Arts?
Two in Our Area Have Municipal Departments Promoting Arts & Culture
By ANGELA WAMPLER | September 30, 2008Many communities in our area support arts and culture through budget appropriations, in-kind support, and general support. A! Magazine for the Arts recently inquired of six municipalities to learn how they support the arts. The numbers are revealing.
According to statistics provided by city and town officials, Johnson City provides the largest amount to its public library ($1,475,750). Two cities support arts councils: Kingsport with $7,000 and Johnson City with $26,190. Kingsport and Johnson City also support symphony orchestras with budget line items. All of the towns and cities in our survey contribute to concerts and festivals. Kingsport devotes the largest dollar amount to arts and culture ($1,835,650). Abingdon contributes 3% of its total budget to arts and culture, the largest percentage of any town or city we surveyed. Abingdon also spends the most dollars per capita, $46.67.
Numbers do not tell the entire story, however. For this article, we turn to one city and one town that stand out because they have created municipal departments promoting arts and culture — Kingsport, Tennessee and Wytheville, Virginia. Kingsport's Cultural Arts Division has been a part of the city government for many years. Although Wytheville spends the smallest part of its budget for arts and culture compared with the other cities and towns in our survey, this small town is the first in our region to establish a Department of Museums. Kingsport is unique in another way because it alone has made the commitment to a "Percent for Art" program, leading the way in our area in adopting this program found in many cities across the country. In addition, the City of Kingsport has a program with city policies and funding for Public Art.
A! Magazine for the Arts has written extensively in the past about projects supported by the town of Abingdon. For articles on Barter Theatre, Virginia Highlands Festival, and William King Regional Arts Center, see the archives on our website, www.artsmagazine.info.
— - KINGSPORT: Funding and Community Partners
— - WYTHEVILLE: Department of Museums and Heritage Education Program
— - STATISTICS: Budgetary Commitments to the Arts offers a breakdown by city/town of line item appropriations for the art.