Theater Masks (copy)

HIGH POINT — The loss of city funding has prompted the High Point Arts Council to suspend several of its programs and grants.

High Point faced a 2020-21 budget shortfall because of the crippling effect the coronavirus pandemic had on sales-tax revenues, a major generator of income for the city.

As a result, the arts council announced Friday that its Teacher Arts Projects, Community Arts Projects, Day in the Park Festival and 2021 Arts Splash Concerts will be suspended until the $90,000 needed to fund them can be restored or replaced.

In addition, allocations to the council's four affiliated arts organizations — Carousel Theatre, High Point Ballet, High Point Community Concerts and High Point Community Theatre — will be reduced. A council committee will recommend how much.

“These reductions will have a ripple effect throughout High Point and the city will be much poorer for it," Debbie Lumpkins, the arts council's executive director, said in a news release.

In an interview Friday, Lumpkins said the city has provided funds to the arts council since 1979.

"You try not to take (the cut) personally because it's about the pandemic," Lumpkins said. "But it just hurts a little more."

On Wednesday, the arts council's board of directors voted on a budget for 2020-21 that suspended its community-outreach programs.

The 49th annual Day in the Park festival will not be held on Sept. 19 at City Lake Park.  

The concert series, Arts Splash, will not be held next summer, which would have been its 19th season. These arts programs were free to attend and at various locations, making the arts accessible to everyone in the community, the news release said.

“We are able to complete this summer’s Arts Splash series due to funds that we were able to ‘carry over’ from the state," Lumpkins said in the release. "These concerts are booked months in advance and we didn’t want to suddenly cancel these events because so many artists have lost gigs and lost income due to the pandemic. Even with gathering restrictions, we have made it work by live-streaming the concerts to hundreds of viewers for each concert."

Last year, the arts council awarded 18 arts education grants to public and private schools. These grants were for projects that integrated the arts with core subjects to enhance the learning process.

The arts council also awarded six grants to other nonprofits for arts projects that benefit residents in the High Point area.

Tom Blount, who chairs the arts council's board, called the loss of city funding "a double whammy."

“It occurred as the 2019 United Arts Fund Drive, already curtailed by the pandemic, was winding down," Blount said in the release. "The Arts Council and its affiliates are going to need lots of extra help this year from those who value arts and culture in our community.”

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