[PhiladelphiaDANCE.org Listserv] Philadelphia City Council approved a preliminary budget that restores some funding back to the Cultural Fund

PhiladelphiaDANCE.org philadelphiadance at gmail.com
Thu Jun 18 09:20:13 EDT 2020


After much lobbying and pressure put on City Council by the Arts & Culture
sector in Philadelphia, City Council in a late-night meeting on Zoom, last
night, Wednesday, June 18, 2020, has proposed the restoration of $1.35
million in funding split between the Philadelphia Cultural Fund (PCF)  and
African American Museum. This new budget was moved forward by the Council
without any further public comment.

The proposed 2021 fiscal year budget is still dealing with a $749 million
revenue shortfall resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.  The revised
municipal budget now totaling $4.9 billion is expected to receive a full
vote within the week before heading to the mayor’s desk. It will still be
critical for Arts & Culture groups in the city to maintain the pressure on
the Mayor’s office specifically to ensure that funds for PCF remain intact.

The budget put forth also reduces tens of millions off the Philadelphia
Police Department’s budget as advocates call to defund the force in the
wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis. During Mayor Kenney’s time
in office, the Philadelphia Police Department’s budget had grown over 30%
to approximately $725 million. This issue was further compounded this past
May when the mayor proposed an additional increase of $19 million.

It should be noted that under Darrell Clarke, Council President, who should
little support for restoring arts & culture funding in emails sent to his
office, that Council’s new budget simply moved an additional $14 million
from the police budget to the Managing Director’s Office allocating $12.3
million for crossing guards and $1.9 million for Council President Darrell
Clarke’s new fleet of public safety enforcement officers.

Under pressure from the Black Lives Matter movement and protests in
Philadelphia, it appears that a number of services have been restored or
funded. These include –
- $1.35 million in restored funding between the Cultural Fund and the
African American Museum
- $25 million earmarked for “healthcare needs, healthier food options,
affordable housing, anti-poverty efforts, job training”
- A $20 million investment in the Housing Trust Fund
- $1.45 million for adult education.
- $825,000 in funding for re-entry services

It should be noted that quite a number of programs within the police
department will be funded or restored with an emphasis on corrective
measures for policing in Philadelphia. These range from funds for body
cameras, to implicit bias training and even an oversight committee.

There are still significant revenue gaps, which Mayor Kenney had hope to
close by layoffs of city workers as well as proposed tax hikes. Council has
offered a counter proposal with increases to the wage tax for non-city
residents (now 3.5019%) and an increase in parking tax to 25%.   In
addition, cuts have been made by $5 million to the Fire Department and the
City’s pension debt is being reexamined to the tune of $80 million.

It should be noted that the restoration of $1.35 million to PCF does not
necessarily mean the restoration of the Office of Arts, Culture, and
Creative Economy which the Mayor had already disbanded effective June 1,
2020, even prior to the Council hearings. While the $1.35 million
restorations of PCF and African American Museum is a step in the right
direction it is still a harsh decrease in the budget that may leave many
arts organizations still with gaps in funding.  While a step in the right
direction, much work will be needed to both move this proposed budget
through the Mayor’s Office for approval as well as to restore PCF to its
former funding levels over time. The Arts & Culture community in
Philadelphia will need to remain vigilant in the process and beyond.

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