RICHMOND -- A unanimous City Council on Tuesday voted to give the Richmond Art Center up to $375,000 annually over the next five years.
The funding is contingent on a memorandum of understanding between the city and the nonprofit center to provide a host of new art programs and classes in local schools, libraries and community centers.
The funding infusion comes at a crucial time for the center, which has been offering programs and exhibits since the 1930s.
"Like other art nonprofits, (the center has) experienced a significant decrease in funding from the private sector, and has been without a full-time executive director since December 2011," according to a staff report. "The RAC is seeking city assistance to help with the transition to a new executive director, and to provide stability while the new programs are set in place."
Despite the fiscal pressures, the art center has become better integrated into city services and sites, the report states, noting, "its board has responded with renewed educational programming in community centers, schools and the library."
The city will provide the center $275,000 annually for general operations funding. As part of the memorandum of understanding, the largest portion of the funding will go toward providing arts programming at Lincoln Elementary and Holmes Middle School, Shields Reid Community Center, as well as in Richmond public libraries and at other community centers.
The Richmond Art Center has been part of the Richmond Civic Center since it was built in 1951. In addition to the funding support, the city provides the center with free space at 2540 Barrett Ave.
The center hosts classes in painting, ceramics, jewelry making, weaving, screen printing, and children's art, and operates a summer program for youths.
Some speakers Tuesday raised concerns about the expenditure, given the city's ongoing fiscal troubles -- Richmond is looking to close a $2.9 million budget deficit without layoffs -- but the majority of speakers praised the move.
Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726. Follow him at Twitter.com/roberthrogers