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Last-minute add saves Arizona Commission on the Arts from total defunding

Multicolor tiles on walls
City of Phoenix
Phoenix worked with artist Mary Shindell on a 364-foot integral colored concrete block wall located along Maryland Avenue near 22nd Street.

Before Arizona lawmakers passed a budget for fiscal 20-25, it appeared the state arts agency would be left behind in a legislative attempt to overcome a crippling deficit.

The Arizona Commission on the Arts will receive $2 million from the Arizona Arts Trust Fund to put towards grants for artists and organizations.

But Jacky Alling, who heads the agency, says that’s a 60% reduction from the year prior, and the year before. But the agency was set to receive no money until the day before the budget passed the Legislature.

“Since the beginning of the legislative session but really stepping up in the closing days when the budget talks started to escalate and move along very quickly,” Alling said. “We had unprecedented messages to legislators and Governor Hobbs and obviously as a state agency we communicated up through the chain of command, too, about what a large impact these cuts would have.”

The agency’s spokesperson, Steve Wilcox, says their state allocations are historically inconsistent and the agency has other streams of revenue that can help.

“Last year we had over 280 organizations apply for general operating support. We saw almost all of those return and we saw an additional 20 applications come in from new organizations.”

Agency officials say the smaller allocation will alter how much it can offer in grants. Those details are still being worked out.

Jill Ryan joined KJZZ in 2020 as a morning reporter, and she is currently a field correspondent and Morning Edition producer.