A+ Schools is a special program administered through the North Carolina Arts Council, which integrates art into the public school curriculum to help students with different learning styles. In addition to the state funding, private donors match the state budget to help initiate greater arts influences.
Grassroots Arts funding goes out to all counties within the state and allocates more money for local arts councils to send out through grants to local arts organizations.
Olson also said she believes these programs are beneficial for the state because they lend funding to rural counties, which has been a concern of legislators.
Another element to the budget was $60 million in grant funds for qualifying movie and TV productions. Although the money does not compare to what was offered in the former tax credits program, which offered a tax incentive based on the amount spent, it aims to draw projects to the state.
Michele Weathers, interim managing director at PlayMakers Repertory Company, said she believes the tax breaks were better for the industry, and feels the grants are limiting, but she said she is happy the state is putting forth some money.
“We’re not valuing it in the way that we have in the past with the tax credit program,” Weathers said.
“If we are not encouraging the film industry to continue to make films in our state, we are saying to our students, ‘We can educate you in North Carolina but we can’t employ you in North Carolina.’”
UNC senior Lance Dagenhardt said employment is a concern of his, especially now that he is deciding where he wants to work after graduation.
He said he believes the sum of money is a smart move because the state can give more money to various films and attract more projects into the state.
Weathers notices many arts students tend to leave the state for work.
“As we send artists out into the world, graduating from our MFA programs, our costume programs and our theater production programs, those students are less likely to try to practice their craft in North Carolina,” Weathers said.
Dagenhardt said he hopes new legislation will give him the opportunity to return to North Carolina.
“I would love to come back here and make a movie and tell a story about North Carolina and make it in North Carolina,” Dagenhardt said.
“I’m glad that the state government has come to the conclusion, again, that this is a good idea.”