In the words of the Baltimore Sun, the recent Baltimore County budget process was highly “contentious.” The budgeting process started by County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., reflects long-standing financial challenges and how the county is handling both increases in tax revenue and cuts throughout government. Even so and through bipartisan efforts, the County Council passed the budget last Thursday. Unfortunately, it includes cuts to the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences, an organization that provides vital support to artists and cultural organizations.
Understanding the difficult choices facing the County, we hope that these recent actions do not indicate a trend. The State of Maryland receives a 4:1 return on its investment in the arts (FY 17 Arts Economic Impact Report. Maryland Department of Commerce). An investment in the arts is an investment in the economic vitality of the state and results in strengthening the lives of people, communities, and neighborhoods. Under Republican and Democratic governor’s alike, the arts garner bi-partisan support. In fact, Governor Larry Hogan has overseen the recent historic increases in the Maryland State Arts Council budget ensuring Maryland’s place as third in per capita funding of the arts nationwide. That’s a worthy legacy to uphold or best on the national, state and local level. The Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance looks forward to working with County Executive Olszewski in future years to ensure that the County is part of this trend.
As more specifics about the budget emerge, take a moment to learn about the wonderful work and impact of the Baltimore Commission on Arts and Sciences. According to its website, Baltimore County's arts and sciences program is designed to ignite creativity in the region's cultural organizations, encourage public participation, extend outreach to students and diverse populations, and provide the residents of Baltimore County with a range of offerings that reflect the diversity of the County's cultural heritage.
All my best,