ONE OF THE SLICES taken out of the District's budget pie several weeks ago was $100,000 sought by the Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The cut, made by the House subcommittee on appropriations for the District, eliminated the money the commission earmarks to help city cultural groups match funds from the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, private foundations and corporations.
The proposed cutback may not seriously affect the larger cultural institutions such as the National Symphony, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, or the Washington Opera, which don't depend on the commission. But it will have a disastrous effect on smaller groups such as the Capital Ballet, the African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, the Sign of the Times Gallery and the Washington Filmmakers' League. These organizations regularly look to the commission for help in matching their operating funds. Because of the high costs of production and administration, and given the scarcity of resources, they find themselves continually in financial jeopardy. In many instances, were it not for support from the commission, their programs would have to be curtailed or abandoned.
City Councilman Marion Barry and Commission Director Larry Neal have asked members of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees to reconsider the House subcommittee action. They point out that the local arts groups are an energetic and enthusiastic element in the cultural life of the city. The talent of these groups is made available in school concerts, weekend classes and evening performances throughout the entire city and especially in the black community.
Other city officials would do well to recognize the importance of this question and to encourage the Senate subcommittee to vote favorably on it.Local arts groups need the support of the commission and the city needs the groups.