Monday, September 19, 2016

Jackson cuts Arts Council funding to zero.

The Greater Jackson Arts Council issued the following press release:

City Council, Mayor’s Office Blindsided By Decision To Gut Community Agency

(Jackson, MS) – The City of Jackson has defunded its officially designated arts agency in a shocking budget move.

For the first time since its inception in 1981, the Greater Jackson Arts Council (GJAC) will receive no funding support from the City. “This move is devastating,” Janet Scott, GJAC Executive Director said. “And it strikes right at the heart of underserved communities, artists of color and low-income students. I understand the City’s budget challenges and expected some sort of funding reduction. But to be zeroed out without any discussion? It’s a slap in the face to the citizens we’ve served for the last thirty-five years.”

City Council President Tyrone Hendrix went on social media to say the governing body was “blindsided” by the move while Mayor Tony Yarber maintained defunding was “not the plan” and demanded answers from staffers.

“Ending support for the arts council is not an insignificant action,” Jon Salem, GJAC Assistant Director said. “At the very least it deserves a thoughtful examination and debate. Many people are already asking if the arts council was sacrificed to protect some questionable budget decisions within the City.”

At stake is a wide array of positive, community friendly services. GJAC offers a grants program for arts groups, schools, artists and neighborhood associations, free downtown concerts, a public art initiative, management of the Arts Center of Mississippi as an exhibition gallery and affordable venue space, and special assistance to artists and cultural advocacy efforts.

Festivals and performances and educational outreach that make a city live and breathe are major economic drivers. GJAC is also a catalyst to funnel grant money to the citizens of Jackson from regional, state and national entities, a role that is now in jeopardy.

Ultimately, this decision will hurt the citizens—people like Thabi Moyo, an active cultural arts programmer. “The ability to reach out to an organization like GJAC that is able to turn around funding in a short period is vital when you are trying to make a difference in your community,” Moyo said.

“Defunding the arts council is not a progressive move for Jackson,” Stacey Ferreri, GJAC Board President said. “It will cut off opportunities for people and organizations that have no other place to go for support. We’re all sympathetic to the fiscal crisis. But is this really the best the City can do?”

Current and former recipients of GJAC support (grantees, musicians, etc.) are encouraged to share their stories on the Greater Jackson Arts Council Facebook Page and on Instagram using #SaveTheArts.

Kingfish note: Here is the 2014 990.  Some quick figures:

 Total revenue: $441,557
Profit: $37,313
Executive Director salary and benefits: $55,249
 Government grants: $329,200
Total salaries and benefits: $171,089 (Includes ED)
Advertising/promotion: $6,371
JCVB program: $58,317
Special arts & events: $42,446


Anonymous said...

Sewer,water,fire,and law enforcement. When those services are funded and operating at an appropriate level the city can look at spending taxpayer dollars on art projects. Plenty of private dollars out there that will be spent on art if the consumer market wants art

Anonymous said...

Greater Jackson Arts Council = SLUSH

NOT a priority. Not even on the list of Top 10 Priorities.

Anonymous said...

and the russian ballet cancelled

Anonymous said...

At last, a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Folks, this is what has to happen. Local, state, and federal. The politicians have been buying our votes with our tax money for decades and our governments are bloated. When things are actually cut. I mean really, like this, somebody ain't gonna be happy. We must do more of this. And there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Even tho we have way too many government programs, most all of them do something worth while for somebody somewhere. That cannot be the litmus test. Make the City safe. Make the schools decent. Balance the budget. Cut out the non essential programs.

Anonymous said...

nothing be free in jackson no mo

Nuts said...

The mayor is whack-o

Anonymous said...

I am a big supporter of the arts - was raised in a family of artists - everybody but me. Hate to see this, but the Arts Council, along with many other good activities need to be cut from the city's budget. The city cannot maintain its essential services and the city cannot continue to raise taxes resulting in fewer and fewer taxpayers.

Hate to see the Council cut, but if they are doing good work they can go out and do like other groups do - try to raise funds from the private sector, foundations, and supporters of the arts. If they are not doing good work, they will fail at these efforts and close up - and that would be a good thing if they are not providing worthwhile services.

The one thing of note is our Mayor throwing his staff under the bus - claiming he did not know that they were defunding this agency and 'demanding answers'. Hell, why would he not know this unless he was too busy on one of his fundraising trips visiting with the body-painted strippers.

Anonymous said...

12.18 and 12.39 - I couldn't agree more.

We've gotta say "yes" to the public golf courses! We've gotta say "yes" to the arts council! What, exactly, are we going to say "no" to?

Here is the sad, sad truth: Kicking the can down the road works. It has worked for a long time in American politics - municipal, state and federal. If your goal as a politician is to get elected and then re-elected, kicking the can down the road is a completely rational and well-advised strategy. You do not want to be the bad guy who closed golf courses, de-funded arts councils, laid off employees, cut budgets, etc. You want to be the one who stood up for the little people, saved the arts, saved jobs, created jobs, increased benefits for government workers. These are the things that make good press, keep voters happy and get you elected. A pesky detail like a bond rating cut gets lost in the noise, and most voters don't even understand what that means on the face of it, much less the long-run impact. So, your city, county, state or country can simply go back to the well, borrow millions (or billions) more - albeit perhaps at a slightly higher interest rate - and move on.

To date, the music has stopped in very few situations (Orange County, CA; Jefferson County, AL and Detroit are a few high-profile exceptions). However, this has been building for decades now, and I believe we will see more high-profile insolvencies.

Anonymous said...

"City Council, Mayor’s Office Blindsided By Decision To Gut Community Agency"
"The City of Jackson has defunded its officially designated arts agency in a shocking budget move."
"...the governing body was 'blindsided'”
"...Mayor Tony Yarber...answers from staffers."

Who are these "staffers" that can make these decisions without not only approval, but knowledge of the City governing body?

Anonymous said...

Only the beginning. Time to trim the fat.

Anonymous said...

Finally someone made a smart decision.
Never thought that was possible.
It is called saving money!!!!

Anonymous said...

this is just the first of many cuts....wait until there's not enough money for police, fire, schools---it's going to happen.

they should think about reducing the size of the city workforce--probably much more money to save there than arts anyhow..

Anonymous said...

Come on, Legislature !!! Keep the pressure on. Drop that Chapter 9 authorization bill this year. The only thing these incompetent bastards understand is the threat of losing control. Keep putting pressure on these jackasses, as it is having the intended effect.

Anonymous said...

I don't live in Jackson, anymore. I go to my post office box there. I take staff to Babalu, on occasion. I go to Rainbow, when I run out of deodorant. Otherwise, I pretty-much ignore Jackson. Haven't been to an 'event' there, in decades (no particular reason: Jackson's just off my radar, these days). My ignorance is my own fault, but please inform me: what sorts of things has the Jackson Arts Council been sponsoring? Is it mostly sad-sack neo-Hippie Seventies-retro stuff? Does the Council underwrite anything of merit?

Is the Ballet truly at risk? Do people like me need to write them some checks? I have NO interest in Ballet. But Jackson Ballet/IBC IS a HUGE asset to the region, and I suppose I should pony-up and give them some money. And how about the Art Museum? Is it time for a few thousand of us to become involved, and (privately) make it into something which EXCEEDS expectations?

In any event, I think the end of public funding for the Arts Council is a GOOD thing. Public monies tend to attract incompetents.

Anonymous said...

As a Jackson resident here are my funding priorities:
1. Police
2. Fire
3. Infrastructure
A. Sewer and Water
B. Roads
nothing else until you give these departments more than they've had in years.

Anonymous said...

Best news I've seen on here about Jackson in a while.

Anonymous said...

Their own self serving press release quotes a director and an assistant director. Like most government dole, most of the money is eaten up by salaries. Very little goes to "arts". The press release includes zero discussion about actual dollars and what they are used for.

Anonymous said...

Go to Rainbow for deodorant?

Anonymous said...

How much were they receiving?

Anonymous said...

All about public safety and the "Infrastructure."

Anonymous said...

Good move for the city.....but This is another sure fire way to get fired as mayor.

The aggrieved will gather and support their guy who will reinstate the graft and's how these things move toward chapter 9.

Anonymous said...

Every other major city in the U.S. funds art programs. It is an essential part of community revitalization and economic health. Again, while the rest of the nation moved forward on innovative ideas for economic development, Mississippi is stuck in a regressionist mindset. Artists serve a primary role in community development and are often the most willing citizens to invest in their communities. This is a shocking move for a city that has so far to climb.

Anonymous said...

Like most government dole, most of the money is eaten up by salaries.

Yup, another employment agency. From the GJAC 990s:

2014 GJAC salaries, other compensation and employee benefits were 47.8% of total revenues.

2013 GJAC salaries, other compensation and employee benefits were 50.8% of total revenues.

2012 GJAC salaries, other compensation and employee benefits were 63.1% of total revenues.

2011 GJAC salaries, other compensation and employee benefits were 42.1% of total revenues.

Roger Murdock said...

First read of the 990 from 2013 for GJAC, lists total revenue of 441,557 (329,200 of that were 'government grants.' Hope that wasn't all City of Jackson). Total of Salaries, other compensation, and employee benefits were 210,821. Total expenses were 404,244. So payroll was 52 cents on every dollar spent. Director is getting 55k plus other stuff. Let's call it 55k. So, 26 cents on every dollar spent is just for the Director.

I don't know enough of the inside baseball to interpret the rest of the expenses as to which are overhead and which are the money given to promoting the 'arts.' I'll be conservative and say all other overhead is 8 cents on the dollar just for a round number.

We have $100 to give to promote the arts, $74.50 were stolen at gun point from the taxpayers. So, we pay someone $26 to supervise a handful of others making a combined $26 to spend another $8 to give away the remaining $40(and let's be honest, it's probably less than that they're giving away)?

Yep. Nothing left to cut.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"Go to Rainbow for deodorant?"
September 19, 2016 at 2:34 PM

Yes. I used to go, just for the Aloe-based, which works exceedingly well. But now, they've got two really good kinds. The spices in the bulk section are fresher and cheaper than at the big box groceries. And I like the rolled grains in the bulk bins, since you can just throw them into whatever you're cooking, without any effort. But I go in there, for the deodorant.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for weighing in from the GJAC at 3:16!

Anonymous said...

Oh no! How will we ever pay to have the signal boxes at each and every traffic light painted?

Anonymous said...

A staff of 5 and 3 of them are 'Directors'. LOL LOL

Anonymous said...

The Zoo will be next.

Anonymous said...

5:36. Hope so. Let the state take it over and move it to LeFleur Park. Make it a STATE ZOO and make it a part of the museum complex. The traffic would increase 10 fold.

Anonymous said...

3:16 I'll wager you're too dumb to educate, but I'll try. My grandmother, who dropped out of 8th grade in 1929 to help support the family when the Depression hit, was fond of noting a simple truth: "Sorry, we can't afford it".

She left over a million $ when she died at age 90. Spending money WISELY pays off. She was able to support several charities in her later years, and taught us grandchildren about giving back once you've become established.

The IBC does bring a lot of money and prestige into the state, though. That is a shame. Gotta pay for the Mayor's stippers first I suppose :-(

Anonymous said...

Good God this website sucks.

Anonymous said...

Sell the zoo animals to other zoos and turn the zoo into a huge homeless shelter !

Anonymous said...


Is that why you frequent it?

Pappy O'Daniel said...

No Arts Council?!!?!? Who the hell is going to live in the Art lofts?!?!?

Anonymous said...

It took decades of decisions by many people for Jackson to get into the shape it is in.
To me, two types of decisions stand out as the best examples of what not to do:
#1 If you say you cannot afford to pay your water bill we will keep giving you water for free. Free to you that is. Paid for by the people who do pay their bills or in some cases paid for by some unborn children who will one day live in Jackson.
#2 The residents of Jackson are x% black folks. We, the city leaders, believe that that same x% should be the makeup of every occupation: contractors, attorneys, electricians, truck drivers, eye surgeons, etc. And if an occupation is not x% black folks it MUST be due to discrimination. (Unless black folks are more than x% of an occupation. In which case we pretend that is not happening). Therefore we are willing to pay more for goods and services, that is spend more of the tax payer's money, to try to force the racial mix of the people we do business with into this imaginary world where everyone is the same as everyone else. (Do not ask if we waste our own private funds in this manner. We may be dumb, but we ain't stupid.)
Those two ideas, which are actually one idea - "Don't treat everyone the same" are at the root of the downfall of Jackson.

Anonymous said...

There's an ugly grey office building, Downtown. There are several of those, I know, but this one is near where the "fashionable" hardware store used to be - the one where our architects sent us, to look at the hotsy-totsy kinds of hinges and knobs. This ugly, grey office building had a (short-lived) branch of the Courthouse Gym (done-up in the most brain-deadening grey: fifteen minutes in there, and you felt suicidal, which is probably why nobody went in there twice).

Anyway, outside the ugly grey office building, there was/is a "sculpture" - an obelisk or a dolomite or a slab (it's been a quarter-century since I've been down there) sticking out of the pavement. There was a little window in the slab/dolomite/shaft, and you were supposed to look in and read a literary quote, and look at some gloves and some other stuff (all painted grey or silver). If the grey gym in the grey building hadn't already made you suicidal, this grey "sculpture" would probably finish you off.

Is that an example of the Jackson Arts Council's work?

exjxnres said...

I predicted it many years ago. First the Zoo, then the Arts, next will be city employees (gone, not furloughed), then city services like water, sewer (already beginning to show declining service). Hinds County will attempt to pick up the slack, but will be unable to, because of the continued waste at the top of the chain. Past that, who knows....?
I say, build a wall around it, throw in a few more weapons, and let them have at it. When all the fighting and destruction is over, move back in and re-construct what was once, a great city.

Anonymous said...

If cutting off GJAC funding spares more city employees from losing their jobs I have no doubt, ZERO, that if asked Jackson's voting majority will endorse the decision to gut GJAC.

The surprise and feigned concerns about GJAC by members of the City Council are all for show. Period.

Anonymous said...


Bless your heart, I know you're trying. That slab was in front of the federal building, and was part of that project. It has nothing to do with the JAC.

There have to be cuts in Jackson's budget, but let's keep to arguments based on facts, not wild conjecture.

Anonymous said...

8:45 - you are on to something practical, that makes complete sense for the future ! Sell the animals and turn the Zoo into a safe place for all the areas homeless!

Anonymous said...

This doesn't surprise me and more funding cuts will be forthcoming. The City's day of reckoning is here and it's due to years of an Amos and Andy approach in managing City business.

PittPanther said...

1:04am, please go back to sleep for another 25 years.

Anonymous said...

So stop the whining and start the fundraising. We have an abundance of artists here. We have Jeff Good and Donner Kay. Stop talking and start doing!

Anonymous said...

Get the damn parking meters fixed. The city is losing $$$$ everyday.

Anonymous said...

Send the animals caged up in the Jackson zoo to another city. Not even animals should be forced to stay in Jackson.

Too Loose To Trek said...

What was 'explosive' or too hot for tender ears about the post asking the race and relationship of the employees to current or past city leaders? I suspect it's more of the 'Harvey Johnson Employment Office' paradigm, just upgraded a bit.

$55,000 a year to lounge around in an 'Art From Zimbabwe' venue?

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