Moderately good arts news

Published 10:22 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In the midst of a recession punctuated by the cries of those who are worried about the future of arts funding in Virginia, there is some moderately good — or at least improved — news on that front here in Suffolk. Paul Lasakow, executive director of the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, reports that the financial situation at the center has improved during the past year.

A bit of qualification to that last statement is necessary, as the SCCA still lost more than $782,000 and struggles to increase the memberships and donations that will be vital if it ever is to break even. It’s not every industry in which a $782,000 loss can be considered evidence that things are picking up.

But in the world of arts centers — and specifically when it comes to Suffolk — such an outcome reflects financial progress and, it can be hoped, a sign that the community has begun to buy into the idea that Suffolk needs its own center for the arts.

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Having cut its annual losses nearly in half during the past year and having controlled expenses at the facility, the SCCA has become — if not profitable, then at least more financially productive in the effort to carry out its mission “to encourage and advocate the visual and performing arts by providing a forum where diverse audiences can actively participate in cultural experiences.”

There is still some progress to be made, of course. Self-sufficiency might be out of the question, but a healthy and growing base of corporate and individual supporters would be an appropriate goal. Local productions — such as “Oliver!” — give the community even more reasons to feel connected to the facility, and other community arts productions would serve to strengthen that connection.

Still, even moderately good news is welcome when it comes to arts funding in Virginia. We’ll take it where we can get it.