Commentary: Support of the Arts in the Carmel City Budget

Hannon bus2

Commentary by Dr. Tim Hannon

A recent Current in Carmel article detailed the mayor’s request to double his funding for the arts in the 2022 Carmel city budget. Carmel has consistently supported the arts through substantial investments and will continue to do so. Each year the city provides multiple sources of arts funding including:

  • $1.2 million to $1.4 million in the mayor’s budget for arts grants
  • $1 million for events, festivals and outdoor music programs
  • $2.25 million in direct support payments to the Center for the Performing Arts
  • $1.5 million to $2 million in utilities and facility-related expenses for the CPA
  • Annual principal and interest payments on the $180 million CPA complex.

The city council has been particularly generous to the arts in the last year by approving an additional $4.25 million in long-term debt for a water tower light show and multiple roundabout art sculptures, as well as $180,000 for two sculptures featuring people of color.

Given the significant amount of money already invested, I see no need to increase the mayor’s current arts budget. If the mayor has a pressing need for specific projects that exceed his generous budget, he can bring them before council where they can receive public comment and our full consideration. Overall, I’d like to see a greater number of smaller-cost projects by local artists rather than our typical larger-cost projects by outside artists.

If there are remaining funds available in the 2022 budget, I prefer they shift to critical infrastructure such as multi-use paths and upgraded pedestrian crossings to improve both quality of life and safety for our residents. This need is even more urgent with the recent Carmel Clay Schools change requiring students within 1 mile of schools to provide their own transportation.

Tim Hannon is an at-large member of the Carmel City Council.