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W.Va. cultural budget cut 8 percent

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fairs, festivals and cultural events around the state will feel the impact of the state budget crunch, with funding cut by more than 8 percent in the 2013-14 budget.

Lottery funds appropriated to those groups through a Culture and History fund dropped from $5.9 million in the current budget to $5.22 million.

Money allocated for fairs and festivals -- one of the last vestiges of the old Budget Digest, now covering several pages in the state budget bill listing each individual event -- was cut from $2.06 million to $1.89 million.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had sought even more severe cuts, seeking to reduce the overall funding category to $5.07 million, and to cut fairs and festivals funding to $1.75 million.

That caught the attention of House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, who questioned why the proposed cuts were so severe during the Division of Culture and History's budget presentation.

"If the governor asked for 71/2 percent, I don't understand why there's 14 percent cut," White said at the time, referring to Tomblin's directive to most state agencies to cut their 2013-14 budget requests by 7.5 percent.

House and Senate budget conferees were able to restore some of the funding, but all of the events that receive funding through the line item will see cuts in state funding for the budget year beginning July 1.

Among the reductions:

Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg drops from $75,000 to $67,500; the Chuck Mathena Center in Princeton, $90,000, which is down from $100,000; New River Gorge Bridge Day, $34,200, from $38,000; Heritage Farm Museum and Village in Cabell County, $42,750 from $47,500; Aracoma Story in Logan, also $42,750 from $47,500.

Others are YMCA Camp Horseshoe, $85,000, down from $95,000; Wheeling Festival of Lights, $68,400, from $76,000; Mountain State Arts and Crafts Festival, $38,475 from $42,750; Matewan-Magnolia Fair, $38,475 from $42,750; Coalfield Jamboree, Logan, $29,975 from $33,250.

Locally, cuts include: the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, $29,925 from $33,250; Charlie West Blues Fest, $8,550 from $9,500; FestivALL, $17,100 from $19,000; Multifest, also $17,100 from $19,000; South Charleston Summerfest, $8,550, down from $9,500; and the Dunbar Critter Dinner, $8,850 from $9,500.

Also, support for the state's three symphony orchestras drops to $85,000 each. Last year, the West Virginia Symphony and the Wheeling Symphony each received $94,763, while the Huntington Symphony received $99,763.

The Appalachian Children's Chorus will be cut to $78,518 from $90,250, while the Greenbrier Valley Theater drops to $138,259 from $156,913. Funding for the State Fair of West Virginia drops to $43,391 from $49,875.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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