Wichita Falls budget cuts result in reduced funding for local art programs

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The tightening of the budget in Wichita Falls amid the coronavirus pandemic is having a financial impact on the arts in this community.

On Tuesday, the Wichita Falls City Council voted on a proposed rate and held a public hearing on a proposed budget that could get final approval in September. However, that rate will bring in more revenue than last year because of increased property values, but that will still not be enough to make up for cuts or hiring freezes made to hold the line.

The city council voted to a proposed tax rate, just over 76 cents per $100 of assessed value, that they may adopt on September 1. The tax rate is the same as last year, which would bring in 3.8 percent more revenue because of an increase in property values. The proposed budget is $184.4 million — about $9.6 million less than the current budget.

For the past five years, the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture has had a memorandum of understanding with the city. In the agreement, the Alliance manages the city’s budget allocations for funding 15 local art organizations such as Backdoor Theatre, the Wichita Falls Museum of Art, and the Wichita Falls Symphony.

However, because of all of the revenue reductions, particularly revenue from the hotel occupancy tax, the city had to reduce all allocations.

“You know the art organizations are struggling as it is so every little piece that they can get is going to be beneficial,” associate director of the Alliance, Ann Arnold-Ogden said. “So as the city works through its budget process, we as the local arts agency have to pay close attention to what those numbers are going to be.”

Leiker said city staff has recommended a $50,000 allocation to the Alliance, but that won’t be official until the city council approves the budget.

The Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture also provides professional development to local artists and arts organizations, special exhibitions, performances, and educational programs.

The Alliance is always seeking donations. Find out how to donate here.

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