Islip sets deadline for arts council move

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Islip officials have set a deadline of Wednesday for the Islip Arts Council to respond in writing to the town's recent proposal to slash the council's funding and move its offices.

Citing a $26 million budget deficit for 2013, town officials have proposed cutting all funding and moving the arts council's longtime offices from Brookwood Hall to a nearby community center -- a proposal the town's arts community has decried.

In a Sept. 12 letter to the arts council outlining the town's offer, Supervisor Tom Croci said he hopes to "maintain a working relationship and promote the arts in Islip," but added, "The town simply cannot continue to provide funding as it has in the past."

Islip provides about $128,000 in annual funding to the council, which has a $425,000 budget and runs programming at the Islip Art Museum; town officials have said the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs would run a more limited arts program if the council declined to oversee the museum without town funding.

Nick Wartella, president of the arts council's board of directors, did not respond to a message seeking comment Monday.

The deadline is the latest turn in the dust-up that began in July, when the town proposed moving the arts council's office to the Jacob Ockers House. The council declined, and tensions were further inflamed last month, when someone printed a flier mocking two town council members. The arts council denied responsibility for the flier.

At a recent town board meeting, supporters of the arts council protested the proposed changes. Donna Periconi, president of the Bay Shore Chamber of Commerce, called the town's proposal "heartless," and said, "It is time to reach a compromise."

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