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Council reduces the budgetary blow to the arts and humanities

In an abrupt about-turn, the city council has reinstated the majority of funding to the arts and humanities.

The move comes in response to heavy lobbying by citizens who claimed a two-year, $134,000 cut to the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council would severely cripple the organization and island non-profits.

The move came after a plea from BIAHC board president Anne Blair, who warned of dramatic restructuring at the organization.

"I said I wouldn't threaten a dramatic outcome," Blair said, "But starting tomorrow morning the BIAHC staff and board will begin discussions for restructuring, and cutting arts services that are mandated by the city's comprehensive plan."

The cuts would have winnowed BIAHC staff from 3.5 to 1.5 full-time employees, reduced funding to island non-profits and would have removed annual arts programming.

BIAHC is the umbrella organization that distributes city funds to non-profits such as Ovation!, Bainbridge Music Guild and the Kids Discovery Museum.

The u-turn from last week's decision to keep the cuts in place was brought forward by council member Chris Snow. He had previously voted in favor of the cuts.

"According to procedure, reconsideration can take place to correct a hasty decision," Snow said before moving that the council review a motion to reinstate funding.

"Half of the platform I ran on had to do with establishing a stable funding source for the cultural element in our community," Snow said. "A great island deserves great culture or at least one that stays afloat... I am a champion of cultural funding and I have to make that clear."

The action changes cuts to BIAHC from $40,000 to $23,000 in 2009, and from $94,000 to $23,000 in 2010. The vote in favor of the revised cuts passed 6-1.

"The arts are a revenue source for the city and a number of our home-based businesses are artists," council member Debbie Vancil said. "The $23,000 (reduction) is an effort to recognize that... and it will allow the organization to survive another day."

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