2015 Maryland Arts Budget
As of April 9, 2014: At midnight at April 7th, the Maryland General Assembly adjourned its 2014 session SINE DIE (Latin for “without day” or for an indefinite period- in this case, until the 2015 session).
The outcomes for our sector are both exciting and, unfortunately, somewhat disappointing. So, let’s start with the good news! As you know, in his FY2015 Budget, Governor Martin O’Malley proposed a 5% increase in the General Fund appropriation for the Maryland State Arts Council. This 5% is equal to about $800,000 and brings the appropriation to its highest ever, $16.2 million; clearly this is well worth celebrating for it is this appropriation that translates into operating grants for more than 260 arts organizations across Maryland as well as other key programs of the Arts Council.
Another exciting outcome is the expansion of the definition of a “qualified residing artist” under the state’s Arts & Entertainment (A&E) District law. The law restricted the income tax subtraction modification benefit to only artists who lived in the county/city where the A&E district was located, and could only be applied to art created and sod in that same district. With the Governor’s signature, this change will allow ANY Maryland resident to take advantage of this credit on work created and sold in ANY of Maryland’s 22 A&E districts. This should be a great boost for all of the A&E districts for further revitalization and certainly helps working artists from all over Maryland who may now choose to create and sell their art in any A&E district in the state.
Now, for the disappointing new- In the waning hours of the 2014 General Assembly Session, a deal was struck to increase the amount of available Film Tax credit in Maryland from the $7.5 million that was proposed by the Governor, to $15 million (and potentially, to $18.5 million). To do that, the funding which the Governor directed in his budget to the Special Fund for the Preservation of Cultural Arts, for both the current fiscal year and next fiscal year, will now be made available for the Maryland Film Tax Credit, and is therefore not available for its intended purpose. This is particularly stinging to the arts community in that these funds were specifically set aside for the purpose of helping out sector strengthen its organizational capacity and fiscal stability to better serve our citizens and to be better stewards of Maryland’s wonderful public investment in the arts.