Political life in small rural counties like ours often comes down to a pair of choices: the essentials or the luxuries.
Each of these choices has benefits and advantages, but deciding between important services like road maintenance and, in some eyes, less important activities like the arts has been a wedge issue for years.
Greene County lawmakers last week discussed reservations they had with funding the former Greene County Council on the Arts, now known as the Council for Resources to Enrich the Arts, Technology & Education, or CREATE.
The county has been supporting the council since 1980, but its recent rebranding has concerned some legislators, particularly when it comes to financial support.
The problem, in summary, is this: The council also serves Columbia and Schoharie counties but only Greene County makes financial contributions, lawmakers said last week.
Two resolutions came before the County Resources Committee last week. One calls for authorization of $35,990 in funding. The other calls for cultural service contracts for $40,000.
Both resolutions passed the County Resources Committee, and the Legislature will request a breakdown of the council’s spending after the first quarter of 2020.
It is worth noting that CREATE uses this money to sponsor several artistic activities for children and hold gallery exhibitions for all ages. It is also worth noting that the Legislature grants funds to support a thriving arts and tourism community including 23Arts Initiative, Lumberyard Center for Film & Performing Arts, Bridge Street Theatre, Inc., Bronck Museum, Catskill Community Center, Catskill Mountain Foundation, Inc., Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural & Sports Centre, Planet Arts, Prattsville Art Center, Stephen Petronio Dance Company, Inc., Thomas Cole National Historic Site and Wave Farm.
The fly in the ointment is that, unlike Greene County, Columbia and Schoharie counties are funding their CREATE shares with state money. When we consider this, it’s easy to understand why Greene lawmakers are gnashing their teeth. That must change. That would provide additional benefits and promote a unified cultural alliance across three communities.
We agree with the Legislature on taking a measured response to this issue by monitoring spending.