The New York State Theatre Institute will not survive if the Legislature approves Gov. David Paterson’s proposed cuts, NYSTI board Chairman David Morris said.
His institute’s $3.1 million budget is cut in half in Paterson’s proposal. Paterson also proposed Tuesday to eliminate the institute’s entire state subsidy next year.
For it to remain in operation, the institute would have to find ways to raise $3 million next year, Morris said.
“It’s absurd,” he said. “It will put the New York State Theatre Institute out of business.”
The institute does receive some money from ticket sales and foundations that support the arts, but not enough to put on a show. The shows are primarily aimed at school children, who are bused to Troy for performances throughout the year. NYSTI also travels to schools to perform and teach. Among the recent shows was “1776,” which brought to life the beginnings of the Revolutionary War.
Morris argued that despite the state’s mounting deficit, significant cuts and increases in fees, NYSTI’s budget should not be halved.
“It’s arts and education,” he said. “It’s a valuable resource for the state.”
The reasons for the cut are not explained in Paterson’s budget proposal. The proposal simply says that the state’s $3.1 million subsidy will be phased out over two years.
The Egg in Albany would lose its entire $600,000 subsidy this year.
“Both institutions would be expected to fully support their operating budgets through non-state revenue sources,” the proposal says, adding that the agencies will become “self-supporting.”
If the first cut is approved, bringing NYSTI’s budget to $1.5 million, Morris said the show will go on.
“We can run a skeleton program,” he said. “We will lose about half of our employees.”
But if the second cut — reducing NYSTI’s subsidy to zero — is also approved, he said, the institute would close.
“It’s just going to be impossible,” he said.
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