The Baltimore Sun

Arts cuts costly for jobs, culture

Glenn McNatt's editorial notebook "Pennies for the arts" (March 7) eloquently stated the need for leadership and vision by our state leaders in developing policy and funding for the arts.

Even during the best economic times, arts organizations face financial challenges. Their main revenue sources are ticket sales, contributions from individuals and corporations, foundation grants, endowment income and state funding. Every one of these revenue sources has been dropping as the economy has slid into recession.

Most arts organizations have already laid off staff, cut salaries, furloughed employees and scaled back programs and operations.

Yet in his fiscal 2010 budget, the governor is proposing an eye-popping $6 million (or 36 percent) reduction in funding for the state arts council.

The magnitude of this cut is so much greater than the funding cuts proposed for other state agencies that its size is hard to understand. Our arts institutions have long been considered some of Maryland's most valuable assets and are the envy of many larger states. But if the state now cuts funding for them by 36 percent, there will be long-term, irreversible consequences to our arts community.

Many arts organizations will be forced to close, and others will be so decimated that it will take years to return to what they once were.

At a time when the federal government is spending billions of dollars to stimulate the economy, it's shortsighted to take $6 million away from the arts council, a funding cut likely to result in the loss of 150 to 200 jobs in arts organizations across the state.

We know this recession will not last forever. But its impact on our arts community will be permanent if this funding cut takes place.

Douglass Mann, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of Maryland Citizens for the Arts.

Cutting the core of our civilization

Tim Smith's article on the demise of opera companies around the country is indeed tragic ("Darker Nights at the Opera," March 8).

The soprano Beverly Sills once said that "art is the signature of civilizations."

It's too bad that our civilization has diminished.

Geraldine Segal, Randallstown

Developers destroy industrial heritage

The column "City must protect port" (Commentary, March 9) described a process that has been going on for years.

The developers have created large edifices of waterfront apartments and condominiums. I have often wondered how many have been affordable and how many are still occupied.

Years ago, I remember often driving along Key Highway and feeling a sense of wonder at the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipbuilders there.

I mourn the loss of this thriving industry. It provided a living for many citizens and a proud, needed service. It contributed significantly to the economy and to the reputation of our port.

And now the builders want more of these precious waterfront properties.

The port is one of the most important assets we have here, and its continuing success contributes to our economy in these troubled times.

Marjorie L. Sutton, Severna Park

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