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The Los Angeles Times reports that due to the statewide budget crisis, arts programs are being suspended and possibly cut out for good. This is likely a harbinger of things to come, as arts funding and education is often the first to go in tough times. From the article:

The Los Angeles school district has suspended a key arts program because of a spending freeze, a sign of what may be ahead for the state's largest district, which is facing a serious budget shortfall.

When the school board was forced to slash almost $400 million from this year's budget because the district received less than expected in state funds, it kept most of the cuts away from classrooms. But now the district may have to cut another $400 million, which could mean increasing class sizes, laying off teachers or providing fewer meals at schools.

L.A. Unified officials also instituted a spending freeze, which resulted in the abrupt postponement of the arts program. In a Dec. 12 e-mail, district administrators told arts instructors with the Arts Community Partnership Network to cancel all work immediately and that payments might be delayed, though work could begin again next month if the state resolves its budget crisis.

"We are all waiting for the state budget in January . . . and hoping for the best," said Richard Burrows, L.A. Unified's director of arts education. Districts throughout the state are also making drastic cuts, said state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, who warned that eliminating arts and after-school-program funding could have dire consequences.

Photo: LAUSD Art School, by Waltarrr

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