Big chunk of arts budget up in smoke

Jill Barshay Oct 9, 2007


Scott Jagow: For years, the company that makes Marlboro cigarettes has been a huge supporter of the arts in New York City. Controversial, yeah, but a lot of arts groups can’t be too picky about where the money comes from.

But Altria is moving its headquarters to Virginia. And it’s cutting off that $7 million a year in New York arts funding. Jill Barshay reports.

Jill Barshay: Altria has decided to end its funding of the New York City Ballet and hundreds of other New York arts groups.

Bob Lynch with Americans for the Artssays Altria’s decision is a big blow:

Bob Lynch: Seven million dollars is a big chunk of money, and it’s never easily replaced in the arts.

Altria has decided to decentralize its corporate giving and let its subsidiaries call the shots. For example, the food division, Kraft, will focus on hunger.

Lynch says only 5 percent of giving now goes to the arts, down 3 percentage points from the 1990’s.

Lynch: Sometimes, people see the arts simply as an extra, or decoration, or entertainment, and don’t understand how the arts contribute to the broader society advancement by contributing to things like economic development.

Lynch hopes that government and hedge-fund managers will eventually replace the Altria money. But he expects to see a big cigarette hole in art budgets for a while.

In New York, I’m Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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