Tough road ahead for creative community…how do we respond?

Creating money.

Tough road ahead for creative community…how do we respond?

If you have kept up with the news lately, you know that rumors are starting to fly about potential budget cuts for the arts and culture industry.  The House Republicans have proposed to cut all funding to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities, as well as get rid of the Center for Public Broadcasting (LA Times Article, summary of proposals)  Most recently, the new South Carolina governor proposed budget cuts that would eliminate that state’s Arts Council (Charleston City Paper article).  Although these are only proposals at this point, they are certainly an indication of tough times a-coming.

You may wonder how federal and state funding may affect your work?  Well, state and federal funding supports arts organizations, large and small, as well as individual artists. These organizations put on festivals and shows, coordinate arts in schools, run performance facilities, give grants to groups and individuals, and hold education and other support programs we all rely on.  The void that the loss or reduction of programming at these organizations would create would be felt in all disciplines and ripple through the entire creative community.

But what can we, as individuals, do?

Statewide action

At the state level, there is an organization already working to maintain support and funding from the NC General Assembly….Arts NC.  Karen Wells, Arts NC’s Executive Director, has a great entry on this topic on her blog.  I suggest you read the entire entry, but think these two quotes are worth including:

“Yes, Virginia, there are boogey men who are suggestion complete elimination of the NEA, NEH, and public radio and TV.  And in North Carolina, rumors are flying that the General Assembly is considering appointing a committee to consider elimination of all grant funding to all non-profit organizations.  If an undertow picks you up and you panic, you stand a much greater chance of drowning.  Swim parallel to the shore and you just might work your way out of the great downward sucking motion.  Urgency, friends, not panic. ”

“We can do one of two things.  We can roll over and stick our heads under the covers of “this will never happen” as we watch the dismantling of the non-profit arts sector, or we can enter the debate in wholesale numbers.  ARTS North Carolina needs you to leave the sidelines if you aren’t already in the game, and bring lots of your friends with you.  We must get ready quickly, very quickly, and be proactive in proposing the role of arts as an essential government service. “

Karen’s suggestions for action, at this point, are to join Arts NC and follow its listserv to help stay aware of what the NC legislature is doing, and to join your local delegation at Arts Day on April 11/12 to talk with your state legislators.  I went to Arts Day last year and not only was it great to meet with the legislators, but also to spend the day with arts supporters from across the state.  Arts NC does the legwork and makes it easy to participate.  Finally, Karen suggests that you write your state legislator and tell him or her why they should support the arts.  Arts NC has some great resources here.

Triangle region action

One of the reasons that Triangle ArtWorks was started was to provide a method for the community to keep up with issues that affected them as an economic group, and a simple way to disseminate information the community needed to respond to these issues.  The creative community is a strong economic force in this region.  It is time the community started working together to support itself, as other economic groups do.

To keep up with local political issues affecting the Triangle’s creative community, just follow ArtWorks on Facebook or Twitter.  We follow all local, statewide and national arts organizations and arts news sites and post relevant news. Should there be a call to action, we will let you know.

We also need to be developing relationships with our local government leaders, not just our state leaders.  Our local county commissioners and city councils members need to hear from us and know us.  Information from local people making an impact on the economy in their county or city is vital for them to hear.  They need to hear your stories and understand, in a personal way, our community’s impact on the economy.

Keep in mind that while contact with your local leaders in time of “urgency” is important, it is a good idea to work on relationships at all times. ArtWorks has links for local councils and commissions here.  If your local leaders hold a “meet the public” type meeting, go and introduce yourself, write a letter, send an email.  Invite them to your shows, events, or openings. You can be sure other economic groups are doing it.   The creative community has simply got to get better at it.

Clearly, you will be hearing more from ArtWorks on this issue in the coming months.   To help get the word out and build this vital communication network, tell your friends about ArtWorks.  If you hear news that is important to the community as a whole, let us know.

As always, we want to hear from you, so post thoughts and comments below, or contact us directly at info@triangleartworks.org.

Thanks!

Beth

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One Comment

Karen Wells says:

Thanks Beth. Together with regional organizations such as yours, we can mount a concerted, proactice campaign. Given a significant increase in people willing to work collectively, I think we will surprise even ourselves about what we can accomplish.

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