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Council on Culture and Arts seeking additional funding for community programs

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Posted at 7:45 PM, Aug 15, 2022

TALLAHASSEE, FLa. — The Tallahassee Ballet is one of many community arts programs that is asking for more funding from the Council on Culture and Arts to continue it's outreach programs.

All of COCA's grant programs are funded through the City of Tallahassee's Tourism and Development Tax. This means only tourism-related programs can receive funding. In order to help support community programs that don't qualify for the tourism development tax, COCA is asking the City for a $300,000 grant.

Executive Director of COCA Kathleen Spehar said these community programs have a more local focus. "Programs that include arts education, arts and culture programs for special needs youth and adults, arts and culture programs that are focused on local services," said Spehar.

Spehar said the $300,000 would break down into three sections:

  • $40,000 for immediate needs for 4 organizations
  • $160,000 for programs that used to qualify for local funding
  • $100,000 for new programs to qualify

The Tallahassee Ballet receives $70,000 of funding for COCA for tourism. However, CEO Janet Pichard says none of this funding can help support their education and outreach programs. "Although tourism is absolutely wonderful, it just doesn't cover a lot of programs that we want to do here for the citizens of Tallahassee," said Pichard.

One of their community programs is Dance Chance, which offers students at 10 local Title 1 schools free dance classes every week.

Pichard said programs like these would suffer if they cannot get $40,000 from the unrestricted grant fund.

"Just cut back on a lot of things that we really don't want to and that's why it's been important for us in the past to at least try to keep it in our operating budget as much as we can but it's very difficult and some of the programs might have to be cut," said Pichard.

The City Commission will be discussing the $300,000 grant at its meeting on September 7th.