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The exterior of Sauk Theater, located in downtown Jonesville. (Photo: Facebook)

Two orga­ni­za­tions in Hillsdale County may have to restructure their budgets if the cuts Pres­ident Donald Trump pro­posed to the National Endowment of the Arts in March go into effect.

The Hillsdale Arts Chorale and the Sauk Theater receive funding from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cul­tural Affairs. Because the grants financing these orga­ni­za­tions are both oper­a­tional grants, the money is sub­si­dized by the federal funds in the MCACA’s reserve.

This fiscal year, the MCACA has more than $9.7 million at its dis­posal, according to MCACA Exec­utive Director John Bracey. From that number, $9 million is made up of state funding, and only $770,000 comes from the NEA, which is fed­erally-sourced money. Bracey said a total of about 10 percent of the grants MCACA awards come from the NEA.

“When it comes to this money it’s really about cre­ating expe­ri­ences for kids and fam­ilies to learn to express them­selves,” Bracey said. “It’s sending tax dollars back to tax­payers so they can make their square mile the best it can be.”

Hillsdale Arts Chorale Exec­utive Director Greg Bailey said the MCACA awarded them a $7,500 grant, the first from the MCACA the orga­ni­zation has received. The funding sup­ple­ments a total average budget of $25,000, and will stretch across two fiscal years.

“This grant enabled us to use other funds within our budget to expand our mar­keting efforts,” Bailey said.

Sauk Theater Exec­utive Director Trinity Bird said his com­munity theater orga­ni­zation receives a grant of $12,500. The grant goes toward a total budget of $125,000 and con­tributes to Bird’s salary.

“For us, luckily, a large amount of our funding does not come directly from the NEA,” Bird said. “For our orga­ni­zation, in times of need, the com­munity has always pulled through for us. I think we’re in a safe enough place to say that we could probably make up the dif­ference, but it may mean switching up the budget.”

Both of these grants are filed as oper­a­tional grants and are sub­si­dized by the NEA. If Trump’s budget cuts are accepted, it is pos­sible that these figures will be dimin­ished when the changes are applied.

Bailey and Bird said their orga­ni­za­tions benefit the com­munity by pro­viding cre­ative outlets.

“We have so many people who come in and say they’ve always wanted to be in a play or work on a play. You can audition for a show at any age, or work back­stage, or make cos­tumes,” Bird said. “For our audi­ences, we are a very affordable place to come see good-quality theater.”

Both Bird and Bailey said they remain hopeful that their orga­ni­za­tions will not suffer greatly if Trump’s budget cuts are applied, and they also remain con­fident that their orga­ni­za­tions will survive if they are.

“The Hillsdale Arts Chorale is the type of orga­ni­zation that is vol­unteer based, and it pro­vides the type of music and per­for­mance that wouldn’t be available in the area oth­erwise, other than Hillsdale College,” Bailey said. “It’s rare for a county of 40,000 people to have a group that has sur­vived for this long and is able to provide quality enter­tainment and reper­toire.”