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Arts sector hopes lawmakers will allocate more money for them

Posted at 6:25 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 10:09:00-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The arts and cultural sector were one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic and among the slowest to recover.

“The arts are a very important part of tourism engineering in Palm Beach County,” said Dave Lawrence, President & CEO for the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County .

Lawrence is among the many local organizations hoping lawmakers in Tallahassee will help and allocate more money for them.

“This year there is just over $69 million in funding that is on the table that would support 752 organizations across the state,” said Lawrence.

Between 2019 and 2021, Palm Beach County's arts & culture sector saw a loss of more than $360 million. During that time, it also saw more than 11,000 jobs were lost because of the pandemic. Lawrence said currently there are 62 grants recommended to nonprofit arts, science, and history organizations in palm beach county for a total of $8.6 million.

“This funding supports education initiatives and programs and services for our residents and visitors throughout Florida,” said Lawrence.

“Almost two full years we were completely shuttered,” said Sue Ellen Beryl, Managing Director at Palm Beach Dramaworks.

The theater is currently constructing and setting up for their next play, "The Duration".

The design and construction of the sets are done in house and employs local people.

Beryl said state funding is critical as they rebound back.

“The cost of a ticket here only covers 50% of our budget,” said Beryl. “So, if we didn’t have those grants and the generosity of our patrons, we wouldn’t be able to employ all of the artists and bring to the students and to the community of palm beach county, the wonderful theater we present.”

These grants support a vibrant sector in the state according to the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County: $9 to $1 return on investment to local and state government (when 100% funded)

  • Over $4.7 billion economic impact
  • Supports over 227,000 jobs ~ Americans for the Arts
  • Attract over 70 million residents and tourists annually (#1 tourism driver Among Millennials, Gen X & Boomers) ~ Destination Analysis
  • Arts and cultural offerings are a key indicator of livability ~ Florida Chamber of Commerce
  • Higher GPAs & Test Scores ~ Florida Center for Fine Arts Education

The council is a member of The Florida Department of State (DOS) Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA) which provides matching grants to arts organizations. According to CCPBC, Last year (2021/2022 budget), the DAC grant program was funded at $26.7 million (full funding request was $67.8 million). Palm Beach County received $2.3 million in grants. The DCA grant program has not been fully funded since 2014/2015.