Friday, April 23, 2010

Disastrous State Budget Cuts Proposed for the Arts

Be afraid.

Be VERY afraid!

Many state agencies are now in process of considering draconian budget cuts to the arts. Legislators in two states, Georgia and Virginia, are in process of deciding whether or not to totally eliminate their state arts agencies, the Georgia Council for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. Particularly interesting is the fact that the same budget eliminating the Georgia Arts Council includes $10 million for the College Football Hall of Fame.

Along the same line, the Florida Senate has recommended funding its Division of Cultural Affairs at the level of $0.00 which, if agreed upon by its House of Representatives will effectively eliminate it. Concomitantly, the House has recommended a 50% reduction in funding for Arts and Cultural Grants which already were cut by 92% over the past few years.

Not to be left out, the 2011 budget proposal by the Governor of Arizona moves ten million dollars from the Arizona ArtShare Arts Endowment Fund which would effectively deplete it, and the budget proposal of the Governor of Michigan eliminates the Department of History, Arts, and Libraries.

In Minnesota, the Governor proposes to cut the Minnesota State Arts Board (MSAB) and Regional Arts Council (RAC) system by 33% in 2011 and 66% in 2012. All general funding support for the arts would be eliminated by 2013 and the State Arts Board would be converted to a private corporation. In addition, the proposal also eliminates all appropriations for public broadcasting.

Under the 2010-1011 budget proposed by the Governor of New York, the New York State Council on the Arts grant-making funds would be cut by $6.5 million along with an additional $600,000 cut to its administrative budget.

The Nevada Arts Council budget was $2.5 million in 2008, but for 2010 has been reduced to $1.3 million with more cuts anticipated during the current special session of the legislature.

Under consideration at the State House of Maryland is a $6 million cut in state arts funding, and New Hampshire has already cut $428,00 out of the Arts Council's state-appropriated grants budget.

What is happening in your state?
If you don't check it out and do whatever you can to support
continued funding for the arts, you may find yourself
without a state arts advocacy agency and with
no source of funding for individual artist grants. 





New York




New Hampshire


Vicki W said...

What would you propose that the states cut instead? Every state is in a financial crisis and many things have to be cut from the budgets. The Arts only receive about 9% of their funding from public funds. In Virginia the are proposing to cut half of the funding this year. Some of that funding is being made up for by funds from the TARP program. It seems only fair since most salaries in the state (public and private) have been cut by at least that much....or, as in the case of Henry County Virginia, cut all together. I can assure you that my compensation for 2010 is much less than 2009 but my company's revenues are down and I am grateful for whatever I am receiving. I know that everyone, including my Executives, are feeling the pain.

I am not involved in government or politics. But it's time that we all open our eyes to the fiscal issues that we have in the country. EVERY program and EVERY person will have to contribute to fixing it. WE got ourselves into it and WE have to get ourselves out of it one way or the other. No program can be protected.

Gwen Magee (Gwendolyn) said...

Vicki, It all depends on what you think is important and where you place your priorities [I'm speaking in terms of a generic "you"]. For example, if I lived in Georgia, I would place a much higher priority on funding for the arts than I would on funding for a college football hall of fame and that's what I would cut instead.

I would be willing to bet that similar budgetary allocations can be found in the budgets of every state proposing these draconian cuts. But each artist has to decide for him/herself whether or not they care about having arts agencies and commissions.

The point of this post was simply to keep our artists informed about what is occurring. By being made aware of what's going on, each artist can decide to take action to support keeping funding for the arts in their state or not. Its a personal choice, but one that cannot be made if one doesn't know about it.


Vicki W said...

I absolutely agree with you. There is no excuse for cutting funding to the Arts while increasing or maintaining the same funding for sports and other programs. I guess my point is that the citizenry is much more effective when presenting a reasonable voice with alternatives rather than screams and indignant behavior.

In Virginia, a group did what most groups did, dress in costume and protest against the cuts. That's just not going to get anywhere. I think it's more effective to say to our elected officials "OK, we see the need for some cuts, but how can you justify cutting this one thing and not cut these 5 other things?"

We, "the people", are too narrowly focused and often miss the big picture. As for the Arts and other programs that could potentially be considered discretionary, maybe we are better off putting our energies into finding other, less fickle, ways of getting funding.

Honestly, I'm not involved in it much at this point so I admit to speaking on the topic uneducated. But I think we have to be realistic and understand that we have a weak argument when we are up against decisions about funding education, health benefits, welfare, transportation, etc. Sadly, the majority of the electorate really do see Arts as an extravagance.

This is a great conversation and has me THINKING this morning!

eileen said...

What bothers me is that many politicians assume the arts have no economic impact or contribution, and that is the first place they try to cut. They seem to think artists are just hobbyists, making art for fun.

I am happy that Virginia, where I live, did not completely abolish the Commission for the Arts when the budget was finalized. I have no objection to the arts being cut in a commensurate way with other programs. The proposal to totally do away with the art program was way over the top.

Gwen Magee (Gwendolyn) said...

Vicki and Eileen, It's amazing as to what can slip by you. It was only happenstance that I came across info about proposed budget cuts. Georgia's proposal came to my attention first and that was what made me wonder what was happening in other states. For once, I was really amazed to discover that Mississippi (where I live)is one of the states with minimal cuts. But (and Eileen you'll particularly appreciate this), we have a governor who is fully aware of the impact that the arts have on on state's economy (even though I think he's clueless about most things - grin).

I'm so-o-o-o-o happy to learn that Virginia did not approve the Governor's original proposal. And Vicki, I agree that we need to do more thinking about how we can best be effective. And I do agree that finding "less fickle" ways of getting funding is the ideal - this constitutes a call for some serious and much needed brainstorming around this issue.

Great discussion y'all!


toshtensen said...

An update for Michigan. The Dept of History Arts and Libraries WAS eliminated as of Oct 1 2009. The agencies that made up the department were dispersed into other departments. The downsizing continues with the Library eliminating a large portion of its collections and moving from 5 floors of the building to 2. The 2010-2011 budget year calls for atleast $400,000 in cuts to the Michigan Historical Museum and Archive (now part of DNRE). This will mean a significant reduction in the workforce either through early retirements, layoffs or both.

Gwen Magee (Gwendolyn) said...

Toshtensen, thanks for the update though I'm sad to learn that what I thought was a horrid possibly has in fact now become an actuality. What has happened to your library system is awfully close to being a foreshadowing of George Orwell's 1984. It does not bode well when reading and art are no longer valued.


Anonymous said...

In response to Vicki W's question "What would you propose the states cut instead?" It's a very good question that needs to be answered! I would answer it in one word: LAWYERS!

This discussion in the comments has been as interesting as the post!

Gwen Magee (Gwendolyn) said...

Kimberly, your suggestion is definitely a good place to start - smile!

I just don't know what the arts can do to maintain even a semblance of the level of funding they're losing. The private sources are drying up even as the governmental sources are being dismantled with little or no public outcry. I fear its going to eventually be a case of "...not missing the water till the well runs dry..."