Arts Community Demands Additional Funds From Frederick County For Fiscal Year 2024

County Executive listens to their requests during a recent budget hearing.

Frederick, Md. (KM) Representatives from the arts community came before Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater during a recent budget hearing. They were asking for more funding for the arts.

Ted Robinson, a member of the Board of the Frederick Arts Council, says the organization puts its county grant to good use, but he’s asking for more. “The Arts Council is requesting that this body consider a budgetary measure that would provide foundational funding for the security of our arts community, specifically designating a percent for the arts program,” he said.

He also pointed out that funding for the arts pays the county back in additional revenue. “And every public arts funding, approximately seven-dollars are generated back to the public coffers through associated expenses such as parking. Also, an additional $27 is generated to the economy thanks to other associated activities such as dining out or hotels,” he said.

Local artist William Cochran, the created of the Community Bridge, citing a study from the University of Pennsylvania, said public art has some social benefits such improved quality of life. . “You saw falling rates of poverty; falling rates of truancy; higher satisfaction with life with life; higher engagement in other aspect of community life; improved property values, and on and on. All the indicators of quality of life showed improvement,”: he said.

Dan Jacoby asked for more funding for the performing arts. “Governments that support the arts in a big way are governments of a thriving, growing societies,” he said. “In the United States, we built the foundation for world leadership in economic greatness at the same that government support for the arts was at its highest. This is not a coincidence.”

Also speaking in support of the performing arts was Christine Moser with the Endangered Species Theater Project. “Live theater uniquely builds empathy,” she said. “And yes, it’s an economic driver, and yes, and everyone loves that. But live theater builds empathy.”

As part of her request, Moser asked American Sign Language Services be budgeted by the County in its appropriations  to the arts. She said ASL is used to help the hearing impaired in the audience understand a live performance.

County Executive Fitzwater says she plans to hold budget hearing in each of the five councilmanic districts in the County, and will sponsor  another budget hearing in March. She says she plans to introduce her proposed fiscal year 2024 budget by April 15th, 2023.. The County Council will hold hearings on the budget. It must adopt a spending plan by May 31st,2023. Fiscal year 2024 begins on July 1st, 2023.

By Kevin McManus