By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Seven months after Philadelphia’s arts and culture czar left for a new job in Denver, Mayor Nutter has named a replacement.
Mayor Nutter announced today he has chosen Helen Haynes, director of cultural affairs at Montgomery County Community College, to be the city’s new “chief cultural officer.”
“Under Helen’s leadership, the Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy will in fact strengthen our city as a premier arts destination,” the mayor said.
Haynes said she’s excited to assume the post.
“I’m a visual artist, an advocate, an arts administrator, a teacher, a board member and a fundraiser,” she said. “And the arts are not only my passion but have been my mission throughout my career. We know that arts make a difference, and that’s why this office exists. And it should be an ongoing part of our city government.”
Haynes’ appointment comes as members of the city’s art community have mounted an online petition drive, calling on the mayor and City Council to restore funding to the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, which provides grant money to local arts groups.
Nutter was asked about the petition at the press conference and was non-committal.
“We’re still in the budget process,” the mayor noted. “I get many petitions, formal or informal, from virtually every constituency in the city. Everyone wants more, and I would love to give more. I’ll take it into consideration, like all the other petitions from every group and organization that’s asking for more and more and more resources.”
Nutter said his top funding priority at the moment is not the arts or public safety, but the cash-starved school system.
“That is, in fact, number one. It’s probably also number two. And everything else is behind that,” he said.
The petition calls for the Cultural Fund to be back to its 2010 funding level of $3.2 million. The mayor’s proposed budget for the coming year gives the fund just $1.8 million.
Haynes, for her part, said the city needs to do more with less.
“All of us would love to see adequate funding for these organizations,” she said. “We certainly want to maintain the Culture Fund. But as we integrate the role of arts and culture throughout government, there may be other ways that we can help organizations, and really provide more resources.”
Haynes succeeds the mayor’s first chief cultural officer, Gary Steuer, who left in October for a post in Denver.