Iowa’s proposed budget cuts could come at a price for arts and cultural programs

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DAVENPORT, Iowa – Money currently used for the arts and cultural organizations in Iowa might go towards paying the state's bills.

On Tuesday, January 24 2017, Iowa lawmakers moved to take all $6 million out of the the Iowa Cultural Trust in attempts to help cover a nearly $110 million budget loss.

Benjamin Loeb is the Executive Director at the Quad City Symphony Orchestra and has has a passion for arts and culture. Loeb went to De Moines on Tuesday, January 24 2017 to rally for the funds.

“What`s just happened is in a way a violation of our trust - the state`s trust. They say they`re going to prepare for the future and then they raid it,” said Loeb.

The cuts are part of a larger budget plan to trim $88.2 million from state agencies and transfer $25 million from other state funds to cover the shortfall.

“It's sending the worst message that the only reason you do things is to make money. We are trying to plan for the future and we are going against what we are about,” added Loeb.

The trust was created back in 2002 to support non-profit art and culture organizations. Money earned off interest is given as grants.

Since its start, the trust has given out $612,000 through 75 grants — averaging between $2,500 and $30,000 — to nonprofit cultural organizations, leveraging more than $2 million in private matching funds.

The Figge Art Museum received $32,500 over two years.

The Genesis Theatre Foundation received $30,000 in 2015.

River Music Experience and Midwest Writing Center each received $2,500 grants.

The Quad City Symphony Orchestra received $28,000 grant in 2012.

The symphony has used money from the Iowa Cultural Trust in the past to invest further. That $28,000 was leveraged into $3 million dollars.

This week, other supporters of the arts went to Des Moines to rally lawmakers and save the trust.

“Cutting this fund not only hurt Iowa's culture but it also hurts Iowa's economy,” said Sally Dix.

“I came to Iowa and I stayed because I found a rich supportive, environment that supports the arts and cultural environment,” added Cat Rocketship.

Those opposing the proposal also say cuts to arts and cultural programs will hurt education for children and the community.

The legislation was approved by a Senate subcommittee Monday, January 23 2017 and advanced through full committees in both the House and Senate on Tuesday, January 24 2017.