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The money formerly set aside for public art will soon be transferred to general funds, where it will go toward alleviating the immediate budget issues the city faces, Pettit says.
It's worth noting that, in lean times in other cities, funding for the arts has been made available elsewhere. The cities of Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale and Phoenix all have "1 percent programs," where 1 percent of the funds appropriated for capital projects is earmarked for the arts. For example, in Glendale that put about half a million dollars toward the arts last year.
Gilbert has a history of skimping on the arts. In October of 2002, Gilbert's town council rejected an ordinance similar to Tempe's 1 percent program. The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce also opposed the ordinance.
As councilman Petersen explains, people in Gilbert -- at least the people he talks to -- are more concerned with trash pickup than arts funding.
After the council denied Sheng's piece, Petersen says his constituents thanked him for not wasting their money. Sheng said she's considering suing, although she likely doesn't have much of a case, since the project was never a sure thing.
In any case, it looks like the walls in Gilbert will be empty for the foreseeable future.
Benavides, the board's chair, says, his voice weary, that the board will continue to exist. But without any money, he adds, "I'm not sure that we're totally clear what direction we're going to go in."
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