The Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County’s vision is to provide a diverse, vibrant, prosperous, and sustainable arts and culture industry in Chatham County.
Public Comment re: FY 2024 Budget

Public Comment re: FY 2024 Budget

Addressing record low cultural arts funding in the FY 2024 proposed budget, this speech was shared with the City Council on November 21, 2023, during the 1st public comment meeting.

Mr. Mayor, Members of the City Council,

Good afternoon. My name is Patrick Kelsey, and I speak for the Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County. 

Bypassing the need for oratory highlighting the value and benefit the arts bring to our community, I respectfully ask you to consider a few changes to the 2024 budget and one related to the next investment cycle.


  • At a minimum, we ask for a $107K increase in cultural contribution investments.
  • Record low investments started in 2021 and would continue through 2024.
  • With limited investment funds available, an increasing number of applicants also magnifies the negative impact.
  • A $107K increase will bring investment funds from a 12-year record low to exceeding the record high of $764K from 2015-2017.


  • As an example, a free event in Forsyth with a $219K budget requests $100K but receives $65K; of that, nearly 40% or $25K is used to meet City security requirements; over 10% of the entire free event budget is diverted from the service you purchased. 
  • To that end, designate funds, $100K to start, to subsidize contract services offsetting high-security costs mandated by the City.

Finally, for the upcoming application cycle . . .

  • Eliminate the requirement that each program must have its application and, instead, return to a single application per organization.
  • To add, reintroduce investment options to include ticketed contract services.
  • Meanwhile, the restricted revenue fund’s lodging tax should not be used to fund free, community-based programs as tourism has no role in current funding criteria.
  • Ticketed events, however, could release these restricted funds when services contribute to tourism.

My time here today is limited. But these few small changes to consider will help further strengthen our arts community as we start a new year. I extend my gratitude for your time.  Thank you.

Patrick A. Kelsey
Executive Director | Arts and Culture Alliance of Chatham County


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