|In case you haven’t heard, this year the Florida state legislature has – once again – decimated funding for cultural grants, impacting all 489 cultural organizations statewide. Thanks to these cuts, Florida now has the dubious honor of being ranked 48th in the nation for funding for the arts, as the total investment represents just 0.003 percent of the Florida state budget.
What does this mean for the Hippodrome? State funding appropriations have put us on a roller-coaster of instability over the past 4 years. This makes long-term planning and operating a non-profit cultural organization very tumultuous, as we never know what level of funding will be provided from one year to the next. For reference, in 2014, the Hipp received $150,000 (the full funding level available from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs). In 2017, it was $48,105. In the upcoming fiscal year, we will be funded at just $9,941 — a cut of 93%.
Over the past 45 years, the Hippodrome has been steadfast in its commitment to inclusion, diversity and acceptance. Exploring shared humanity and tackling tough questions through the arts has been at the core of its mission, and it has never been more important than now.
We know you want us to continue to be in the position to take artistic risks, and challenge audiences with plays like this season’s The Royale and 1984. Next year, we have a season full of dynamic, award-winning productions and can’t wait to share them with you. But we need your help to bring these stories to the stage.
The Hippodrome is committed to keeping ticket prices affordable (including our popular discounted previews and $10 Tuesdays, discounts to veterans, teachers, seniors and students), providing discounted student matinee tickets to our annual production of A Christmas Carol, and continuing to donate hundreds of free tickets to local non-profits for silent auctions and raffles. We are committed to our community, and we need your help.
In addition to bringing the highest caliber of artistic work to the stage, when you support the Hippodrome, you are also supporting our incredible team:
· Sustain 35 artistic and administrative staff members year-round
· Employ over 100 professional actors and artists per year
· Accept 5-10 postgraduate interns in acting and technical theatre positions
· Offer 15-20 undergraduate internships in marketing and non-profit management
· Engage over 200 volunteers per Mainstage production
· Partner with over 75 businesses, totaling an in-kind value of over $400,000
In a year where our state has a budget surplus, funding cuts to organizations that are creators of jobs, generators of direct economic activity, drivers of tourism, and providers of theatrical, artistic, and educational opportunities seems incredibly shortsighted.
We have been stunned with disbelief as news of our legislature’s decision to virtually eliminate our funding was confirmed last month. We are incredulous that our elected representatives would de-fund not-for-profit cultural organizations — groups that provide a proven and significant return on investment while contributing to the robust cultural life we all enjoy.
Please donate today. As you consider your giving level, please consider what the Hippodrome stands for and the significant 45 years of history it brings to Gainesville. When we ask for your support to Keep Gainesville Hipp, we are doing it for YOU.
Every dollar helps close this budget gap. Donations are secure and convenient at the Hippodrome’s website: DONATE TODAY, or call the Box Office at (352) 375-4477 and contribute by phone.
Thank you, as always, for your ongoing patronage and support. We couldn’t do it without you, nor would we want to.
The Hippodrome Family of Actors, Artists, Administrators, Teachers and Volunteers
|Further Reading: News Articles from Around the State|
| As Florida dramatically slashes arts funding, theaters and museums scramble. (Tampa Bay Times)
Groups scramble after state slashes arts funding. (News Press/USA TODAY)
Arts Groups Face Major Cutbacks in Florida Budget. (Herald Tribune)
State arts funding decimated by legislature. (Folio Weekly)
Florida legislators gut arts even while spending big. (Orlando Sentinal)