New York State: Putting the "starving" back in "artist"

There's been some pain for just about everybody in the New York State budget this year. But the budget cuts have been especially tough on state-funded arts organizations.

The Catskill Daily Mail has one word for the state of arts funding in New York: "Foreboding." (We can think of another one, and it also starts with an F.)

The Greene County Council on the Arts is among those seeing perpetual funding drops in recent years.

According to Kay Stamer, executive director of GCCA, fiscal year 2007 included $227,504 in combined government support from the state, county and municipalities. It has been reduced nearly $50,000 over the years, to $179,529 in 2010.

The total GCCA expense budget has shrunk from $421,058 in 2007 to $317,720 in 2010.

“All of the arts are in a very precarious situation,” she said following a meeting with the county legislature where she announced cashflow issues.

GCCA has already closed its Mountaintop Gallery in Windham, and the story reports that the council is also considering dropping "Sprouts," its free summer art program for children.

Meanwhile, in Otsego County, the Upper Catskills Community Council of the Arts is facing not just budget cuts but a total withholding of grant money from the state. At issue: In recent months, the arts organization has been plagued with an excess of drama. The Daily Star reports:

The New York State Council on the Arts issued a statement Tuesday, in response to a reporter's questions, saying it is holding up its 2011 contracts with UCCCA pending resolution of the organization's fiscal and managerial issues, including its lack of key staff.

With staffing losses in July, including its interim executive director for personal reasons and its program coordinator in an effort to downsize in the current economy, UCCCA is not able to complete grant requirements, the statement said. The decision was made pending the outcome of the UCCCA board efforts to resolve the issues, according to the state agency.

In a story last month on the resignation of director Scott Ward, the Daily Star painted a picture of UCCCA in total organizational disarray. A commenter on the story wrote in frustration:

Four executive directors in 11 months and 14 board resignations? Downsizing staff? Eliminating programs? Going on hiatus? No doubt the economy has been a challenge, but other arts organizations have found ways to thrive and strengthen their programs. UCCCA went from cash reserves, salaried employees with health benefits, annual fundraisers and vital arts programming to this situation in little over a year. What is the real story, Daily Star?