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Real Art Ways Wants Money, The Council Doesn't Have Any

By Jeffrey B. Cohen

October 31, 2009

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Real Art Ways wants $45,000 from the city council.

But the city council doesn't have it.

Real Art Ways, a city arts organization, unsuccessfully applied for $150,000 from the city earlier this year under its arts stimulus program.

Now the organization is back, with the support of Mayor Eddie A. Perez, asking for money from the city council's Civic and Cultural Affairs account for its arts employment initiative.

But it's too late.

"We're out of money," said Councilman Pedro Segarra, who heads the council's budget committee. "They're asking for $45,000 and there's just no money in there."

The council's budget includes a civic and cultural affairs account of roughly $400,000 that it uses to fund small organizations.

Earlier this year, the council's Democratic majority agreed on how to spend $340,000 of the money -- leaving, in theory, $60,000 for the three minority party representatives to split. It was a system that brought skepticism from some quarters, angered the minority-party members of the council who felt left out, and caused at least one Democrat to call for reform.

Segarra said most of that money is spent, and the remainder is spoken for. About 50 organizations have gotten funding at an average of roughly $7,600. One organization -- Hartford 2000, an umbrella group of neighborhood revitalization zones -- gave back $2,500 it was given, saying it had concerns about the award process, which is now under review.

Click on the link in "Related Links" for the Excel spreadsheet that spells out the funding.

Either way, Segarra said, organizations better get used to getting told no.

"It's gotten to the point that our municipal finances are so strained that I would be very, very surprised if in the next year's budget there's enough money to justify having that account," Segarra said.

Officials from Real Art Ways were unavailable for comment.

Reprinted with permission of the CityLine blog of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the CityLine at http://blogs.courant.com/cityline/ and the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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