The arts and culture infantry that shows up whenever the city of San Diego’s leaders consider cutting public funding for arts is likely just over that next hill.
Councilman Carl DeMaio has proposed some of the most dramatic cuts to the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture since its founding in 1988.
The big news in DeMaio’s plan to solve the city’s long-running financial troubles has been about what city workers’ retirement benefits. But the plan also breaks down DeMaio’s goals for cuts in departments across the city — including arts and culture — so that core services like police and fire can be protected.
The plan calls for a 25 percent reduction in the grants the city gives 111 nonprofit arts organizations for an estimated savings of more than $1.5 million. The city’s current-year budget for arts and culture designates $6.2 million for the grant programs, which comes from a hotel-room tax.
The number of city staff running the program would also be cut. By reducing city staff to one executive director and one administrative aide, DeMaio expects to cut four fulltime city jobs from the payroll, and save $330,017 from a $832,680 budget.
If history’s any guide, the city’s arts organizations won’t take such cuts without fighting.