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Leon County advocates issue a call for full arts funding from the Florida Legislature

Arts set as professional creative entertainment theme
Arts funding rises and falls in Florida with each state budget. Advocates have to go through this process of seeking arts grants every year.


The Senate matched the House on Culture Builds Florida - $3,077,996.
The Senate matched the House on Cultural Facilities - $15,845,698.

“They entered $0 on their line for Culture and Museum Grants. This could mean $0 of general support for Leon County,” said COCA Executive Director Kathleen Spehar. “The House and Senate are still negotiating, so we've asked the House to restore funding to the Culture and Museum grants line item.”

Original story:

The Council on Culture and Arts (COCA) in Tallahassee is encouraging lovers of theatre, museums and more to contact Florida lawmakers about arts funding. COCA issued an advocacy alert Tuesday that seems to be working.

“All the House committee members voted to recommend House option number one, which funds 100% of all the grants across the board and all those programs,” says COCA Executive Director Kathleen Spehar.

She says full funding equals more than 700 grants worth nearly $65 million statewide. Negotiations are happening now between the House and Senate for various aspects of the next state budget, including arts and culture.

COCA wants supporters to take five minutes to contact legislators, thank them for their work, and ask them to protect the full funding being recommended in the House.

“The Senate is debating right now on what they're going to do,” Spehar says. “So now's the time to get out there to senators and say ‘we would like you to meet House option number one to get that 100% for arts and culture across the board.’”

In Leon County, almost 30 organizations and artists would be funded with grants totaling nearly $1.8 million. Spehar says the money will go a long way toward helping the community after pandemic closures.

  • Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra – “This would allow them to bring in touring artists from around the country, pay their musicians, and build audiences.”
  • Making Light Productions – “They produce, they educate, and so that would allow them to expand their programming, allow them to get theater back on its feet again. They work with a lot of special needs communities, so that would allow them more resources in order to be able to engage the community more.”
  • Southern Shakespeare Company – “It would allow them to build their festivals back up to the level that they were pre-pandemic.”

Other local groups and artists that COCA says would benefit from state arts grant funding:

  • Florida Art Education Association, Incorporated
  • Florida State University
  • Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science, Inc.
  • Florida School Music Association, Incorporated
  • The Tallahassee Bach Parley, Inc.
  • Goodwood Museum and Gardens, Inc.
  • The Tallahassee Ballet, Inc.
  • The Florida Music Education Association, Inc.
  • Tallahassee-Leon County Cultural Resources Commission
  • Florida Association of Museums Foundation, Inc.
  • 621 Gallery, Inc.
  • John Gilmore Center for African American History and Culture
  • LeMoyne Art Foundation, Inc.
  • Tallahassee Youth Orchestras, Inc.
  • The District Board of Trustees of Tallahassee Community College
  • Young Actors Theatre of Tallahassee, Inc.
  • Tallahassee Little Theatre, Inc.
  • Mickee Faust Alternative Performance Club, Inc.
  • Theater with a Mission, Inc.
  • Ben Gunter
  • The Artist Series of Tallahassee, Inc.
  • Terry Lynn Galloway
  • Holly Hanessian
  • Asian Coalition of Tallahassee Inc
  • Tallahassee Writers Association
Gina Jordan is the host of Morning Edition for WFSU News. Gina is a Tallahassee native and graduate of Florida State University. She spent 15 years working in news/talk and country radio in Orlando before becoming a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU in 2008. Follow Gina: @hearyourthought on Twitter. Click below for Gina's full bio.