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Voicing Support for the Arts in the 2023 Budget

This December, Westchester County will finalize its 2023 budget. In advance of that announcement, the County will host several town hall open forums to invite input from the public about what is important to the residents of Westchester. County Executive George Latimer has already announced his proposed Operating Budget, but there is still time for residents to show their support for the arts and ArtsWestchester’s programs to the County Executive and local legislators.

Thus far, a five percent increase has been presented by the County Executive for contracted nonprofits like ArtsWestchester. In addition to this increase, ArtsWestchester is asking the County Executive and the Westchester County Board of Legislators to consider funding for countywide arts programming to help support Westchester’s cultural community while it works to rebuild arts audiences lost from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the arts council seeks an increase of $250,000 for the cultural community’s recovery to be distributed through  ArtsWestchester’s Art$WChallenge program, which is a public/private partnership with the County. Since its inception in 2007, the matching grant program has raised $5.3 million in matching dollars, indicating that the County’s matching dollars are a powerful stimulus to increased private  donations.

This program incentivizes arts organizations to seek new dollars from new donors to help achieve programmatic and capital goals. This additional requested funding will allow ArtsWestchester to raise the dollar amount that can be matched so that cultural organizations can cultivate a deeper commitment from the private sector and benefit from an increase in funding during this critical period of recovery.

ArtsWestchester is also seeking additional County support for its Juneteenth and ArtsMobile (also see pages A18-19) programs for the coming year: an additional $250K to provide access to hands-on arts activities through the ArtsMobile program, which supports mental health and wellness through arts participation throughout Westchester; and $50k to strengthen the council’s efforts to support equity and inclusion through its promotion of Juneteenth events that are presented by a consortium of 16 groups throughout Westchester.

The arts sector has suffered significant losses of arts audiences and general income due to the negative impact of the pandemic. While the cultural community hopes to get back to pre-pandemic
levels and its $172 million in annual economic activity, the road to recovery will be long and hard.

The public is invited to share their 2023 budget priorities by attending the following budget hearings or writing to their local officials:

  • Public Input Session: November 30, 7pm (Chappaqua Performing Arts Center)
  • Public Hearing: December 7, 7pm (Board of Legislators Chambers, White Plains)