Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Organizing Again to Support the Arts as Education/Economic Development
Even as yesterday's elections send shivers through many of us, we once again face a Virginia General Assembly session (without Morgan Griffith, thank God; the only good aspect of his election to the House) that is poised with a meat ax, ready to cut programs that affect most of us.
Laura Rawlings, director of the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge (I'm on the board) sent the following letter from Trish Poupore of the Virginians for the Arts,to those who see value in state support of the arts. The United States is one of the few First World countries that does not support the arts at high levels on the national level and state support has slipped to dismal levels under Republican domination. Some are finally beginning to understand that the arts comes under the headings of "Education" and "Economic Development" in addition to the sheer pleasure it provides.
Here's the letter:
"Anticipating that state budget support for arts grant funding could face continued challenges during Virginia's coming legislative session, Virginians for the Arts is working to expand its grassroots membership and its list serve, which it uses to send advocacy alerts, calls to action and news about arts funding in Virginia. Grassroots support was pivotal during the 2010 legislative session to the survival of funding for arts grants made through the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
"The News & Advance in Lynchburg reported (Mar. 24, 2010) about Del. Scott Garrett’s (R-Lynchburg) account to his local chamber of commerce at the end of the legislative session: “Public reaction to a proposed cut in state funding for arts agencies led him to believe arts should be regarded as an economic development tool and not just a quality-of-life issue. ‘I had 1,983 emails about the arts after the House of Delegates proposed to cut state support entirely by 2012.’
"In the final budget, most of the funding was restored. ‘What I heard, loud and clear, from our business partners is that arts are what brings businesses into our community,’ Garrett said. ‘I absolutely agree with that.’”
Our efforts this past year included reducing threat of elimination of the Virginia Commission for the Arts (proposed by the Virginia House of Delegates) to a 16 percent cut. VFTA organized a protest, bringing nearly 300 advocates to the state capitol the day the VA House of Delegates finalized its budget.
Efforts during the legislative session resulted in TV news coverage and more than 60 editorials and news articles drawing attention to proposed cuts to the arts. As we face the next legislative session, we need your help and would like to count you among our advocates for public arts funding for the arts in Virginia.