JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The city of Jackson’s budget battle continues. The Greater Jackson Arts Council is now on the chopping block.
It was revealed in Tuesday night’s city council meeting the city had defunded the arts agency.
Charles King, Jr. is the president of Smarty Pants Educational Services. “We plan to go to the Boys and Girls Club, four of them. We need the grant in order to buy supplies to help them,” says King. He’s received grant money from the GJAC for more than two decades. “They do all kinds of things, but it costs to get those,” adds King. His business serves over 3,000 children a year; through mentoring, buying supplies, pens, paper and arts and crafts. That money is now in jeopardy.
“There may not be a Greater Jackson Arts Council a year from now, it’s that destabilizing,” says Jon Salem, Assistant Director of GJAC.
Salmen says the money provided by the city of Jackson makes up about 25-30 percent of the council’s $500,000 budget.
While Salem says other organizations and city projects are important – if the arts council remains unfunded, Jackson will be the only capital city without its own arts organization.
“[We] make sure that the arts are accessible to underserved communities, to artists of color, to low-income students, that’s the core of our mission. To strip that away there isn’t a redundant agency doing the same work, and there’s no one standing in line to do this work,” explains Salem.
However, there is hope. Mayor Tony Yarber has asked the city council to reevaluate the approved budget for the city clerk’s office to find funding for the arts council. Yarber says that could restore $140,000.
“This is a terrible mistake, and they will realize it,” says Salem.