Modest cuts planned for arts, MPT in state budget Peabody Institute to get $5.4 million


ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer's proposed budget for fiscal 1992 includes a modest $125,000 cut in program funds for the Maryland State Arts Council and a $865,000 decrease for Maryland Public Television.

The budget also includes $5.4 million for the Peabody Institute -- $3 million in operating support and $2.4 million for the conservatory'sendowment, part of a 5-year state bailout approved last year.

The proposed funding for the arts council is $7.425 million, a decline of just $17,000 from its current appropriation. But increases in salaries and rent, totaling just over $100,000, mean there is $125,000 less in state funds that can be funneled to arts organizations, local arts councils and individual artists.

Last year the council received a $1.4 million increase in state support, allowing it to fund nearly 10 percent of the operating budgets of qualifying groups. But in September, the council was told it had to cut $350,000 to help balance the state's budget, which it did largely by delaying grants to individual artists until next fiscal year.

James Backas, executive director, said the proposed funding was a "very reasonable amount" in light of the state's financial difficulties. He said it would allow the council to fund organizations at "roughly" the same amount they are getting now, although the percentage of state support would decline as the groups' operating costs rise.

The arts council is to receive an additional $90,000 -- amounting to a total for the fiscal year of nearly $500,000 -- from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of new congressionally mandated funding formulas, but Mr. Backas said there may be limitations on how those funds can be spent.

The bulk of the cuts for MPT are contained in the phaseout of a $750,000 research and development fund, used as "seed money" for such programs as "After the Warming" and the upcoming "Mini-Dragons."

"The intention was that the fund would perpetuate itself after a number of years," said Norm Silverstein, MPT's vice president for administration.

MPT has an annual budget of $21 million, of which $11.5 million comes from the state's general fund. The remainder comes from corporate and federal grants, membership support and program sales.

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