Economy hits the arts with GM Foundation cutting funds

Mark Stryker from Free Press reports today that the General Motors Foundation is cutting funding to arts organizations.

A decision by the General Motors Foundation to sharply cut back on its multimillion-dollar sponsorship of metro Detroit's top cultural institutions puts Michigan's nonprofit community on notice that it stands to lose millions in philanthropic dollars as the auto industry fights for its life.

GM has already notified about a dozen arts and cultural groups, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Music Hall, the Michigan Opera Theatre and the Detroit Institute of Arts, not to expect any annual support from the company in 2009.

That loss of more than $1 million -- confirmed by GM Foundation Chairman Rod Gillum -- is another blow to the cultural treasures and could mean more program cuts and red ink. Even more ominous for Michigan is that GM's cuts to the arts might be only the first notes of a glum symphony. With the GM Foundation cutting arts funding, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is expected to be out $100,000 or more.

Not good news, but then these are tough economic times. The hope is the arts tend to flourish in these sorts of ecomonic down turns - not initially, but eventually the arts are some of the first to bounce back. People want to be entertained with life is tough.

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