There is no doubt the arts are important to Fulton and to Georgia overall.
This year, as we created a budget to fund programs and services in our county, county commissioners were faced with a daunting task: maintaining those services at a level of quality our citizens demand. We tried to do this in a year that saw the county respond to financial obligations to our seniors, county courts, public safety, our employees, public health facilities including Grady Memorial Hospital, local arts organizations and many other community programs.
The initial proposed budget called for significant cuts to Fulton’s arts and culture department. We could not let that stand. By a 5-2 vote approving the county’s amended 2014 budget, commissioners agreed to add $750,000 to bring that department close to its funding levels from 2013. This decision reiterated the county’s investment and continued interest in arts education, programs and facilities.
Even in tough financial times, the arts remain a priority for Fulton County. The county’s arts centers provide a vital outlet for people of all ages — to not only see photography and painting and to hear live music and experience theater, but to teach and participate in those endeavors as well. We are proud as a county to fund facilities such as Wolf Creek Amphitheatre and hope they continue to add to the lives of our residents for generations to come.
Beyond all this, I go back to those signs I saw at so many budget discussions before the Board of Commissioners: ARTS = JOBS. Message delivered, loud and clear.
John Eaves is chairman of the Fulton County Commission.