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Arts District: A Look at the Economic Forecast for the Arts

And more local arts news

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Most of us read about the effects of the financial storm on the arts in gloomy headlines. Last Friday at the Beck Center, Tom Schorgl, president and CEO of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), gave a more scientific look at how arts administrators think things are going.

The information — compiled in a survey by CPAC — seemed very precise and detailed, with percentages of respondents' different answers mapped out in graphs. But because the survey asked about arts professionals' expectations, the whole thing was somewhat impressionistic. The most someone could take away from all those numbers was that arts organizations are struggling and cutting back, and they hope enrollment in educational programs will help save them.

What kind of shape those organizations would be in if voters hadn't passed the cigarette tax in 2006 is anyone's guess. But speaking of that, it's already time for nonprofit arts organizations to start thinking about their applications for the next round of General Operating Support (GOS) grants from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.

For that round, CAC will switch from a three-year cycle to a two-year cycle, which interim executive director Meg Harris says will make financial planning easier. That's partly because three years is a long time for arts organizations in a shaky financial climate and partly because the amount of money collected through the cigarette tax changes each year.

In the past two years, collections have declined almost 9 percent, Harris says, because the county's population is declining and people are smoking less. In 2008, the organization gave almost $15 million to 66 different organizations through the GOS program. If tax-collection trends continue, about $1 million less would be available each year for that program.

Funding criteria for the 2011-2012 grant cycle are on the CAC website, cacgrants.org. The required intent to apply forms are due February 17, 2010.

Artists have to pay taxes too, and that means they have the same seasonal headaches as everyone else. The Council of Small Enterprises (COSE) Arts Network provides help with a workshop called The Top 10 Maddening Tax Questions Artists Have on April 14. It's from 6-8 p.m. November 19, at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library (2345 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights, cose.org). Cost is $5 for members, $10 for others.

mgill@clevescene.com

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