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Florida Arts Groups Scramble After DeSantis Axes $32 Million In Funding

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Coral Gables Art Cinema will be short more than $100,000 this year. About $150,000 has suddenly disappeared from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s budget. The Miami New Drama also has an unexpected $150,000 budget hole.

Across Florida, arts groups are scrambling after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis unexpectedly vetoed $32 million in arts funding on June 12, eliminating all state grants for those organizations in a move that advocates say will devastate arts and culture in the Sunshine State.

“What baffles me is that Florida has been trying to attract business from New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and what message are we sending if we cut funding to our cultural organizations?” said Michel Hausmann, artistic director and co-founder of the Miami New Drama in Miami Beach. “Are you going to attract people to a state where arts and culture aren’t valued? They are the lifeline of a city.”

Arts leaders across the state say it’s the first time they recall a Florida governor eliminating all grant funding for arts and culture, and it comes as arts organizations that survived COVID-19 pandemic closures are still recovering with smaller attendance and revenues.

For the more than 600 arts groups and facilities that were up for state grants, DeSantis’ veto was a surprise because the Legislature had approved arts funding, though what lawmakers approved was less than half of what was initially recommended by the state Division of Arts and Culture. Florida arts organizations had planned their budgets accordingly.

When asked at a news conference on Thursday why he vetoed arts funding in the state’s $116.5 billion budget, DeSantis said some of the money was slotted for programming that many taxpayers would find

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