Arts organizations split on 2020 budget proposal

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Area arts organizations are split on Mayor Steve Allender's $175.2 million budget proposal for 2020.

In it, the Dahl Arts Center will receive more than $200,000, which is an 11% increase from last year.

Rapid City Arts Council Executive Director Susan Hughes said the money is needed to keep the gallery exhibits open and maintain the building.

Though the Arts Council is happy the funding request is approved, another group, Allied Arts, is not.

The non-profit organization represents 16 small grassroots arts organizations in the Black Hills. For more than 20 years, it received $102,000 through the Art Contingency Fund.

In 2019, more than $25,000 was cut. Now, Mayor Allender's 2020 proposal would cut the funding even further, down to about $75,000.

"The money for the Arts Contingency Fund was going to be reallocated into maintenance for a city-owned building, which doesn't make sense to us. Why would that money be going from the people and the organizations and be put into a building? Shouldn't that be a city maintenance line-item budget?" said Allied Arts Executive Director Gigi Lage.

She said cutting funding could end up affecting free after-school arts programs for children and free tickets for downtown arts events.

If the mayor's proposed budget is passed, Allied Arts will have to turn to citizens for donations. Rapid City Arts Council Board President Katie LeClair has no problem working with the organization to keep the arts alive in the community.

"The wealth of organizations that we have are important in the community. So if we can find a way to partner with the different arts organizations. I would like to see what that looks like," said LeClair.

Nothing is set in stone, yet. Council leaders are setting up dates for further budget hearings. South Dakota law requires a city's budget to be finalized by October 1.