By Michael Jacobs

Just months after celebrating its 40th birthday, the Chastain Arts Center is cutting operating hours and services because of the latest Atlanta budget cuts.

The center’s director, Erin Bailey, delivered the bad news to Neighborhood Planning Unit A on Dec. 2 a few hours after the city announced furloughs and 222 layoffs.

Bailey had few details because the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs was still making plans, but she was clear about one thing: “The center’s going to have to become totally self-supporting.”

The Chastain Arts Center already was covering all of its programming costs through class fees and such fundraising events as the Holiday Show & Sale through Dec. 20.

The city’s budget cuts this summer forced the center to pay all of its utility bills. Now the salary for Bailey, the center’s only full-time employee, also is being moved out of the city’s general fund and becoming the center’s responsibility.

That move won’t save Bailey from the city’s 10 percent furlough. She now is limited to 36 hours of work per week.

The center celebrated its 40th anniversary with an open house Sept. 27 that showcased the center’s services, which are open to Sandy Springs residents and others outside Atlanta.

Bailey said the center has a new program to help people afford classes: For every hour you volunteer in one session, you can take an hour of classes in a later session.