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Florida arts organizations faced uncertainty after DeSantis vetoed state funding intended for theaters and museums

A section of the Stonewall Museum Library (Via Christie Ponting/Shutterstock)

The Coral Gables Art Cinema will face a shortfall of over $100,000 this year. The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s budget has suddenly decreased by about $150,000. Similarly, Miami New Drama is dealing with an unexpected $150,000 gap in its budget.

Throughout Florida, arts organizations are in a frenzy after Republican Governor Ron DeSantis unexpectedly canceled $32 million in arts funding on June 12. This decision eliminated all state grants for these organizations, which advocates argue will severely impact arts and culture in the state.

“I’m puzzled because Florida has been trying to attract businesses from cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. What message does it send if we cut funding for our cultural organizations?” questioned Michel Hausmann, artistic director and co-founder of Miami New Drama in Miami Beach.

“Will people be drawn to a state that doesn’t value arts and culture? These are essential for a city’s vitality.”

Robert Kesten looks over a brochure (Via Christie Ponting/Shutterstock)

Arts leaders across Florida say this is the first instance they can recall of a governor eliminating all grant funding for arts and culture. This decision comes at a time when arts organizations, recovering from pandemic closures, are still grappling with reduced attendance and revenues.

For over 600 arts groups and venues that were expecting state grants, DeSantis’ veto came as a surprise. The Legislature had approved arts funding, although it was less than half of what the state Division of Arts and Culture had initially recommended. Florida’s arts organizations had already planned their budgets based on these expectations.

When asked at a news conference about his veto of arts funding in the state’s $116.5 billion budget, DeSantis cited concerns about funding for programs that some taxpayers might find objectionable due to their sexual content or other reasons.

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