ellen_kushner (ellen_kushner) wrote,

Why Everyone Must Support the Arts

In the face of global poverty, sickness and general lousy politics, it can be hard for some of us here in the U.S. to rationalize giving our carefully-budgeted charitable donations to arts organizations. Art doesn't save lives, does it?

(Insert ironic pause here.)

Arts donations don't just go out into a well-meaning void. I've worked with and for many arts and nonprofits folks. In the spirit of Acting Locally, remember that your contributions to a theatre company, musical group, museum, etc. are actually going to pay the salaries of working artists and the staff & administrators who have chosen to lend their talents to a less lucrative field than others they are probably entitled to.

This gentle rant inspired by a letter I just got from a friend who works with a Michigan arts festival:

"[T]he arts funding in MI has basically been eliminated at this point. $3--- of the $5--- state grant (MCACA) [promised us to pay for the performance by visiting artists] last fall has not been remitted to us, and at this point, we are told it is lost. I had also hoped for [$$] for fiscal 2008, under which the next festival falls [in November] ---I will apply for that, but will not know even if money has been allocated for grants until September. Politicians! Funding for the MI Council forArts and cultural affairs has been slashed from $30 million in 2001 to $9 million in 2007, of which most of that has been cut----the sad thing is they can cut all this funding and it is still a long way from fixing the hole in th budget created by legislators doing away with a small business tax buut not replacing the revenue with anything..... Sorry for the rant.....we'll survive, but really are scrambling and pinching pennies right now."

I was really shocked. How can they not pay up on grant money they already awarded? She replied: "Apparently if the government decides there is no money, there is no money. There is a hole in fiscal 2007 budget which was caused by the legislature doing away with one tax...(which made them popular in some circles) while not making any effort to replace that revenue (which would have made them unpopular....) which was already part of fiscal 2007 budget. The governor has frozen funds, and we are being told we will not receive the rest of the fiscal 2007 funds "granted" us."

What can you do?

Donate when you can - or just support by paying museum admissions, theatre & concert tickets . . .

In Michigan, check out the frequently updated page for ArtServe: Mobilizing The Arts Community for Michigan.

A painter friend recommends Americans for the Arts e-advocacy center, which is currently asking people to help Congress pass an Artist Deduction Bill.

Any other ideas?
Tags: politics

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