Arts & Culture Organizations Facing Financial Crisis as Florida Eliminates State Funding

The Our Fund Foundation Steps Up to Fill the Gap for Impacted LGBTQ Agencies Kicks-Off Effort to Fundraise $170,500 by July 31

Financial support for Florida’s already fragile arts and culture scene was further decimated by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who just eliminated most state funding for cultural programs for the upcoming fiscal year which starts July 1, 2024.

“Some of the stuff I don’t think was appropriate for state tax dollars,” said DeSantis as he vetoed nearly $1 billion from the $116.5 billion state budget.

Agencies were aware of potentially drastic cuts in funding (56%) recommended by the Florida Council and Arts & Culture, following votes from the State Senate and House. But this latest development means that years and years of state support for arts and culture initiatives (under both Democratic and Republican administrations) has sadly come to an end.

“Our valued LGBTQ arts and culture organizations had finally regained footing after nearly four years of funding and attendance challenges caused by the pandemic,” said David Jobin, President and CEO of The Our Fund Foundation. “Now, they have to pivot and deal with anticipated and planned-for revenue being cut.”

Of South Florida’s eight LGBTQ-specific arts agencies, the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida was dealt the largest blow given the scope of its budget, along with the Stonewall National Museum, Archives, & Library. Each nonprofit will now have to fill a $40,000 void created by the loss of state funding.

“It is extremely difficult to run a non-profit organization when your income streams are volatile. Our programming for the year is in place. Halls are rented. Artists are contracted. So we now have to identify new funding sources or begin to make cuts that will impact the artistry that we put on stage,” said Mark Kent, executive director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida.

The Our Fund Foundation supports dozens LGBTQ-serving arts and cultural nonprofit organizations in South Florida through its grant funding. Among them, the Chorus and Stonewall Museum, along with six other agencies: Island City Stage, World AIDS Museum, Thinking Cap Theatre, Plays of Wilton, South Florida Pride Concert Band and ArtsUnited, all of which anticipated on receiving state funding. That supplemental revenue has vanished.

“It is fortuitous, I guess, that Our Fund’s annual Arts & Culture Fund grants, in partnership with the Warten Foundation, will soon be announced at least from a morale perspective,” says Our Fund Board Chair, Scott Bennett. “But the loss of the expected state funding by these eight organizations, means that there is still a wide gap beyond Our Fund’s upcoming grants.”

Beyond the challenging artistic implications, there is a real economic loss for the broader local economy, which sees a 9:1 return on investment in arts and culture. This funding supports jobs, programming, tourism and contributes to an annual $386M economic impact in Broward County alone.

“This is where working at the intersection of people who care and causes that matter can make the difference,” said Jobin. “We are calling on our network of LGBTQ and allied philanthropists at this critical juncture to step up and donate to Our Fund’s Arts & Culture Fund. All gifts received before July 31 will be distributed to the eight agencies in accordance with the size of gifts that were cut by the State. If Our Fund is successful in raising $170,500, each agency will be made whole.”

To support The Our Fund Foundation’s Arts & Culture Fund please call 954-565-1090 or click https://ourfund.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create/fund?funit_id=1076