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Las Vegas public arts funding could get cut

A program that has diverted city money to public art in Las Vegas for nearly a decade would be eliminated if Councilman Bob Beers has his way.

During a council meeting Wednesday, Beers said he plans to introduce an ordinance that would repeal the city’s “1 percent for the arts” funding mechanism.

Under the program, the city sets aside
1 percent of capital spending for creating and installing public art.

Beers said the program no longer makes sense in an era of budgets so lean officials are considering cuts to police and fire spending.

“In order to support that, the council would have had to have been so flush with money they had a hard time figuring out what to do with it all,” Beers said. “But that is not today.”

The proposal, which hasn’t yet been formally introduced, probably would face tough questions from Mayor Carolyn Goodman.

It was approved during the reign of her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, and both Goodmans have trumpeted support for spending taxpayer money on art projects.

“I am 100 percent supportive of funding for the arts, and I am interested in continuing the dialogue,” Goodman said in an email. “You can’t have a city of any value if you don’t have arts and culture.”

City spokeswoman Diana Paul said the program was founded in 2003. According to city code it calls for “not less than one percent of the City’s annual capital improvements budget to the Municipal Arts Fund.”

Since inception, the program has generated more than $1.3 million in funding for art projects. But nearly all of the money came in from 2005 through 2007, when real estate values and local government budgets were higher. In 2012, the program generated just $3,000, according to the city.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285. .

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