The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday December 9th

UNC arts program feeling the pinch

Concerns are mounting about the future of the UNC arts community as the national economy continues its downward spiral.

""If you talk to anyone who manages a budget they'll tell you that they're worried"" said Emil Kang, UNC's Executive Director for the Arts. I'm included; we're worried.""

According to the U.S. Department of Labor" the national unemployment rate has risen by 1.7 percent as 2.8 million jobs were lost in the past year. And in North Carolina the unemployment rate increased from 4.7 percent to 7 percent.

With the decrease in jobs comes a decrease in disposable income" from which the arts community thrives.

""The arts sector" like most sectors that are not financial markets were always lagging behind" Kang said. We are at the mercy of people's disposable income.""

Because of the economy"" ticket sales and University endowment earnings are both expected to decrease though Carolina Performing Arts has yet to see any effects of the failing economy.

Kang said the organization has generated $1.45 million this year compared to $1.1 million last year.

""Unfortunately the arts are about six months behind"" he said. I think we are going to see a lot of worse news over the next couple of years.""

Kang said the current economic state will be a factor in the planning of the organization's budget.

""We're not immune to the economic impacts" but fortunately we've generated all or most of our revenue for this year" Kang said.

Despite increased revenue for Kang's program, the economy has hurt the national arts community.

Once-economically viable Broadway powerhouses like Hairspray"" and ""Legally Blonde"" announced October closing dates.

But CPA and other local arts organizations could soon be impacted as UNC is expecting budget cuts as high as 5 percent" resulting in $25 million less than the University is currently receiving.

CPA receives two-thirds of its funding from the Office of the Provost and one-third from tickets.

Aaron Greenwald director of Duke Performances" said the economic crisis will prove to be a challenge for CPA because of its large size compared to the smaller Duke Performances.

""You've got to feed it"" he said. Duke Performances is just an organization that requires less feeding.""

Since Duke Performances receives all funding from the university" Greenwald said" they aren't currently worried about economic impacts.

""We're playing with house money right now"" he said, adding that when funding runs out in four to five years, concerns for Duke Performances will arise.

Greenwald said CPA is taking a risk by hosting more costly acts than Duke Performances, noting Duke's effort to keep tickets affordable.

I have no doubt that the university and Emil" who's a phenomenal programmer and administrator will be able to surmount that" he said. But I can imagine that it keeps him up at night.""

But Kang said decreasing the number of performances CPA hosts will not necessarily alleviate financial pressures.

He said fewer acts brought to Memorial Hall limit earning power.

""We can't really just turn off the spigot because it won't just shut off"" Kang said. I don't have a crystal ball. That doesn't mean that we're not going to be prudent and careful in our planning in the future.""



Contact the Arts Editor at artsdesk@unc.edu.


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