DeSantis’ Latest Budget Cut: $32 Million Funding Axed Affecting This Particular Industry

By: May Man Published: Jul 09, 2024

Governor Ron DeSantis has recently eliminated all state grant funding for the arts, amounting to approximately $32 million.

This decision has left numerous arts organizations scrambling to secure alternative funding sources. Already burdened by the effects of the pandemic, these institutions are now facing a dire financial crisis.

Concerns Across Florida

This action has ignited significant concern and debate regarding the future of arts and culture in Florida.

A photograph of Florida's Governor, Ron DeSantis

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Richard Russell, the general director of the Sarasota Opera, was shocked by the news.

Big Funding Gap

Russel’s organization had anticipated receiving a $70,000 state grant, which was essential for their operations.

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He expressed his surprise, saying, “It’s not going to close us. But it is a gap that I am going to have to figure out how to make up, and if I don’t find alternate sources of funding, that could be someone’s job.”

Stunned by Unprecedented Cuts

Seasoned leaders of Florida’s arts institutions are in disbelief.

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Many of them, with decades of experience, cannot recall a governor ever completely cutting off their grant funding.

Arts’ Economic Value

Michael Tomor, the executive director of the Tampa Museum of Art, noted that even during the Great Recession, there were funds allocated for the arts.

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He emphasized that arts organizations are vital for both the economy and community well-being.

Major Economic Impact

DeSantis’s decision has left many puzzled, especially since the arts industry in Florida is a significant economic force.

Miami beach with buildings on the right

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According to a recent study by Americans for the Arts, the sector contributes $5.7 billion annually to the state’s economy, generates $1.1 billion in tax revenue, supports 91,270 jobs, and attracts a substantial 63 million attendees each year.


Arts at Risk

In Palm Beach County alone, the arts contribute $335.3 million to the economy and support 4,360 jobs annually.

Girl listening to headset in a museum while looking at art

Source: Freepik

This flourishing industry is now at risk, and experts are concerned it could jeopardize the state’s economy and cultural output.


The Greater Impact

The cuts will impact more than just the cultural sector—they will affect tourism, education, and local economies as well.

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As for the rationale behind the cuts, DeSantis has provided little explanation


“In the best interests of the State of Florida”

DeSantis’ office stated that the vetoes were “in the best interests of the State of Florida” but has not elaborated further.

Republican presidential candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaks to supporters during a campaign rally at the Courtyard by Marriott Nashua

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In total, DeSantis slashed nearly $950 million in proposed spending, claiming that this kept the new fiscal year’s budget below last year’s spending. “This is a budget that shows it can be done,” DeSantis declared at a news conference, framing the cuts as a fiscal success.


Organizations Caught Off-Guard

In response, many organizations have publicly criticized DeSantis after being caught off guard by the decision.

A photograph of Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis

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Experts argue that the timing of the veto is particularly troubling, as organizations are still recovering from the pandemic, and it sends a confusing message about the state’s commitment to arts and culture.


Moving Backwards

In cities like Sarasota and St. Petersburg, which have developed strong cultural identities, the cuts threaten to reverse years of progress. Grace B. Robinson, head of the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum in Quincy, explained the broader consequences

Artwork inside Gadsden Arts Center & Museum

Source: Wikimedia

Her center was expecting a $50,000 grant, a crucial 12% of their budget. “We attract people who improve residential and business properties – many of whom will only move to communities with quality art organizations,” Robinson said.


Hope for Arts Organizations

A survey by the Florida Cultural Alliance revealed the harsh reality facing many arts organizations. Of the 108 respondents, 73% indicated they would adjust and continue with their existing plans. However, 41% might have to cancel public events, 35% expected to cut programming for children, and 31% anticipated laying off staff.

Museum in Florida in the evening with palm trees around it

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There is still hope for arts organizations if the government steps in to restore the cuts, but political support appears uncertain. Lawmakers have struggled to secure funding even for their own staff, let alone for arts organizations with limited political clout.