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Budget vetoes deal a 'devastating blow' to Florida's arts and culture groups

An orchestra on stage.
Rod Millington
The Perlman Music Program Suncoast in Sarasota is among dozens of arts groups impacted.

Gov. Ron DeSantis' vetoes cut millions of dollars in funds for more than 600 organizations in Florida, including in the greater Tampa Bay region.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has vetoed most state funding for arts programs in Florida's new budget.

The move eliminates $32 million dollars in grant money earmarked for more than 600 cultural organizations across the state. 

Brian Hersh, the CEO of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, calls the cuts "a devastating blow." 

"Public funds are an investment in our community," he said. "We certainly feel like the arts community pays that forward. So, to have that taken away, it's absolutely a loss and it will be much harder especially for some of our smaller organizations."

The arts cuts were among the $950 million worth of items vetoed by DeSantis before he signed the budget last week for Florida's new fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Some arts advocates say the loss of state dollars could threaten the futures of some theaters, museums and county cultural groups.

Hersh says it will also have a ripple effect.

"These cuts absolutely can impact the other parts of our businesses, from hospitality, to hotels to restaurants," he said. "We want Florida to recognize the business significance that arts and cultural organizations are."

The state’s own analysis says nonprofit arts and culture organizations generate $2.9 billion in economic activity in Florida. They also create thousands of jobs.

"Arts folks are creative, so they're going to have to find some creative outcomes for funding," said Hersh. "It just makes it a lot harder when what you really want to do is create the work that attracts people to the mission that each organization has."

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