DeSantis Slashes $32M from Florida Arts Funding Over “Inappropriate” Festival

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shocked even his own party members after eviscerating his state’s art budget. Some Floridians have accused him of using his vendetta against one arts festival as the basis for the massive budget cut.

Florida Arts Programs Reeling After Losing Government Funding

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In a move that has brought Florida arts programs to their knees, current governor and former presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has gutted arts and culture funding for programs that rely on state grants.

DeSantis Claims to “Stand Up for Taxpayers”

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In a statement defending the decision, DeSantis said that he intended to “stand up for taxpayers” by ensuring that taxpayer dollars were not used for “inappropriate” purposes. 

Tampa Fringe in Governor’s Crosshairs

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He pointed to Tampa Fringe as an example, an annual arts festival that previously received just over $7300 from the state’s budget.

“A Sexual Event”

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“[Tampa Fringe] is like a sexual event where they’re doing all this stuff,” said DeSantis. “That is an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars.”

Hundreds of Arts and Culture Groups Affected

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Rather than targeting just that festival, DeSantis cut millions from nearly 700 organizations and programs across the state. The affected organizations include zoos, museums, art galleries, music programs, and theaters. Many of the programs impacted exist to serve Florida’s children.

Concern Over Job Losses

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Community members are concerned about DeSantis’s drastic cuts, which will have an affect on many jobs throughout Florida. Some programs and groups were hit harder than others.

Major Organizations See Huge Funding Cuts

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In Miami, the Pelican Harbor seabird station, renowned for its research and conservation efforts, lost half a million dollars in much needed government funds. The Tampa Museum of Art, ZooTampa, and the Museum of Science and Discovery in Fort Lauderdale also lost $500,000.

A “Culture War”

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After DeSantis referenced Tampa Fringe in justifying the budget cuts, his opponents guessed that he was attempting to censor drag shows and performances that featured transgender people. 

“Don’t Say Gay”

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The governor has introduced and supported legislation previously with similar goals, including his “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which garnered national attention in 2022.

Many Non-Profits Will Be Forced to Close

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The Florida Cultural Alliance has reported that around 5% of the organizations impacted by DeSantis’s cuts will have to shutter completely, while more than two-thirds of the others will scramble to come up with the missing funds another way.

Law Enforcement Receives Millions For Recruitment

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In the state’s budget signed by the governor in June, DeSantis announced grants of $17 million to law enforcement recruitment efforts, which some critics say is an example of his skewed priorities. 

Questionable Decisions

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The arts budget cuts are not the only decisions by the Florida governor that have been brought into question. DeSantis recently announced a veto to a bill that would allow the government to shut down Florida beaches when the water quality reached dangerous levels.

Government Overreach Concerns

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DeSantis’s justification was that the state government “should not be vested with the power to supersede local jurisdictions regarding the operation of beaches.” Local critics are concerned about the potential health impacts of the decision.

Pinellas County Arts Group Weighs In

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Margaret Murray with Creative Pinellas, self-described as “Pinellas County’s non-profit local arts agency,” weighed in on the economic implications of DeSantis’s decision to eliminate arts funding from the state’s budget.

Economy Expected to Suffer After Cuts

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Murray detailed the tax revenue generated by Pinellas County’s arts programs and noted that it came to approximately $58 million. 

Affects Go “Far Beyond Our Cultural Sector”

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“[This] tax revenue has an impact far beyond our cultural sector, helping to build roads, fund schools, and support the infrastructure of our county,” wrote Murray. 

Arts Leaders Urge Community to Stay Involved

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In her statement, Murray assured community members that hope was not lost for the future of local arts programs.

Focusing on a “Vibrant Future for the Arts”

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“The obstacles being placed before us are regrettable, but there is an undeniable strength and deeply held belief in the power of collaboration that will help us continue creating and continue building toward a more vibrant future for the arts,” she said.

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The post DeSantis Slashes $32M from Florida Arts Funding Over “Inappropriate” Festival first appeared on EcoHugo.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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