DeSantis vetoes all art grants in Florida

But because lawmakers included the money in the budget passed in March, arts organizations assumed the funds would ultimately go to them. It took Mr. DeSantis several months to officially receive, review and sign the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Some cultural organizations have still been able to keep their funding because they were proposed as projects by individual politicians. In the past, leaders of arts organizations have been discouraged from applying for these funds and instead encouraged to apply through the grant program, said Russell of the Sarasota Opera.

In recent years, many people have moved to Florida and cities like Sarasota and St. Petersburg, also on the Gulf Coast, have promoted the arts as part of their identity and become destinations for people seeking a vibrant cultural scene.

Even small towns benefit from having arts groups dominate cultural programming, says Grace B. Robinson, executive director of the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum in Quincy, a city of 8,000 in the rural Florida Panhandle.

“We attract people who improve residential and commercial properties – many of them only move to communities with quality arts organizations,” she said. The center had expected a $50,000 grant, which would have been about 12 percent of its annual budget, she added.

After DeSantis' veto, the Florida Cultural Alliance asked its members how the funding cuts would affect them. Of the 108 organizations that responded to the survey, 73 percent said they would make adjustments and continue with their existing plans.

However, 41 percent said they had to cancel public events, 35 percent said they had to cut children's programs and 31 percent said they had to reduce their staff.

Anna Harden

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