Urgent Call to Action-Arts grants cut 23%

I spent the last two days at Arts Day 2011, that great annual advocacy event organized by Arts NC, where arts advocates from across the state meet in Raleigh for two days of networking, education, but most importantly, visiting our locals legislators and talking to them about the importance of the arts and culture industry to the state and asking for their continued support.

Sen. Stein and Rep. Weiss address the Wake County delegation at Arts Day.

Although it was fun as always to see so many amazing arts people in one room (400 people!), the mood this year was certainly different.   Given the economic issues faced by the State, our message from Arts NC was to support Governor Perdue’s budget, which proposed a 10% cut to the Department of Cultural Resources.  In our meetings with legislators, however, we heard from many that the cuts would likely be worse, although noone had specific information.

Well, by the end of the day, our worst fears were realized. The draft budget, released yesterday afternoon, proposed a 23% cut in the grants program for the North Carolina Arts Council ($1,500,000) and a 15% overall Department of Cultural Resources reduction. This can be changed, but only if people who know what the arts and culture industry do for our State and what the Department of Cultural Resources, and its grant program, do for this industry, take action.  We all need to contact our state legislators, but more importantly at this point, the members of the Appropriations Committee and House General Government Committee.

Arts NC has sent out the following Call to Action:

IMMEDIATE ACTION IS REQUIRED. This unfair recommendation can be changed by the Appropriations Chairs and Republican members of the House General Government Committee.

Be strong, loud, and respectfully angry. Keep it short but clear. Use only one of the following points in your own words. Complete this Call To Action no later than Thursday, 12 noon. Forward this Call to others and strongly encourage action.

THE CONSTANT MESSAGE SHOULD BE:   RESTORE THE CUTS TO THE NORTH CAROLINA ARTS COUNCIL’S GRANTS PROGRAMS TO THE GOVERNOR’S RECOMMENDED 10%.

Why would the leadership in North Carolina disproportionately target an industry that:

  • Produces programs and revenue in all 100 counties?
  • Produces $223 million in revenue and serves 9 million attendees yearly?
  • Matches every dollar of state money with an additional seventeen dollars?
  • Will be forced to raise ticket prices and therefore negatively affect the local economy in related spending in restaurants and retail?
  • Is good for business in our state?

THE ARTS ARE REVENUE PRODUCERS, NOT REVENUE CONSUMERS!

Call To Action:

Call the Raleigh offices of the House Appropriations Chairs:

Representative Harold Brubaker -919-715-4946, Harold.Brubaker@ncleg.net

Representative Jeff Barnhart: 919-715-2009, Jeff.Barnhart@ncleg.net

Representative Mitch Gillespie: 919-733-5862, Mitch.Gillespie@ncleg.net

Representative Linda Johnson:  919-733-5861,  Linda.Johnson2@ncleg.net

Call the Raleigh offices of the House General Government Chairs: (Republicans)

Representative George Cleveland – 919-715-6707, George.Cleveland@ncleg.net

Representative Dale Folwell – 919-733-5787, Dale.Folwell@ncleg.net

Representative Glen Bradley – 919-733-5860, Glen.Bradley@ncleg.net

Representative Mike Hager – 919-733-5749, Mike.Hager@ncleg.net

Representative Kelly Hastings – 919-715-2002, Kelly.Hastings@ncleg.net

Representative Grey Mills – 919-733-5741, Grey.Mills@ncleg.net

Representative Ruth Samuelson – 919-715-3009, Ruth.Samuelson@ncleg.net

Representative John Torbett – 919-733-5868, John.Torbett@ncleg.net

Send an email only if you are unable to reach the Raleigh office.
For additional advocacy information, see Arts North Carolina’s new website at www.artsnc.org.  Please forward responses to your communications to Arts NC’s email.

I will add my personal request to EVERYONE to do this.  Although you may not think you will be personally affected by cuts to grants from the NC Arts Council (see their grantees here) the impact of these groups is far reaching.  Not only do their events fill restaurants and enliven downtowns, they teach our kids, help create community, create jobs and make our towns great places to live.  The economic impact of these groups goes beyond tax impact and retail impact, and these state leaders are forgetting that.   The impact will be felt strongly in the vibrancy of our communities, and that, in turn, will make our region, and this state, a less desirable place to live.  The majority party, which is behind these cuts, say they are only thinking of jobs in making these cuts, but these cuts will cost the state money, jobs, and affect future growth.  Some may say this argument is a stretch, but I say those that think so are not paying attention, or maybe they should just ask their kids what makes their towns a great place to live.

I will also echo Arts NC’s request to make these calls/emails personal.  If you have a personal story on the impact of the arts on your community, your life, your family, or your work, tell it to them.  If you know anyone in the legislature, use that connection.

The Creative Community in the Triangle and the broader community that supports it, need to be heard on this issue.  We are an economic force.

Beth

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