In their Center City conference room, the staff of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance was plugged in. While watching a video projection of a live Internet stream of Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget, community engagement manager Sara Cederberg was simultaneously sending Twitter updates.
“Some of the numbers that strike me was him retaining the film tax credit, he made a big effort to stress that,” said Cederberg. “That was interesting. He made a point of saying, ‘I’m keeping this.'”
The film tax credit–which encourages production companies to shoot movies in Pennsylvania–was the only arts item Corbett specifically identified in his speech.
But there are hundreds of line items in his 1,200-page budget that will affect cultural groups. Some have a direct impact on artists, such as the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, which distributes arts grants. Its funding was cut only slightly, about 1.9 percent, to just over $8 million. In years past, the PCA funding has been cut in half.
Other budget items impact arts organizations indirectly. They include redevelopment grants, which are not specifically arts-oriented, but are available to arts groups along with private and community developers, as well as higher education funding, where many arts programs originate. Corbett’s budget would cut funding to Temple University in half.
“Everybody understands the magnitude of the budget shortfall, and the huge challenges the governor faces right now,” said Tom Kaiden, president of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. “Being pragmatic, I don’t think anybody expected to see an increase this year. The question would be, how severe would the cuts be.”
The alliance is now lobbying legislators to convince them the culture industry is an economic driver. Arts patrons are invited to fill out petition cards, available at galleries and performance venues throughout the city.