What is beginning today is a much more fundamental question and provides the opportunity for civil discourse about what are essential services of government as prompted by the economic crisis. I’d rather have this conversation than to defend myself as a good person doing good work as we had to in the ‘80s. Why, I knew many artists who went to church and prayed to the same God as Jesse Helms.
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.
Mitch McConnell has proposed that when President Obama uses the word “investment,” he really means spending more money. Oops, there went a good message… invest in the arts.
But as the LA Times Points out in their Culture Monster blog article, federal support pays for itself 18 times over. That’s sounding a little like investment rhetoric, so let’s try the following message:
The arts contract with government to provide the following essential services:
- Create jobs
- Improve public education (might just save a life or two along the way)
- Provide a high standard quality of life, essential for attracting new and existing businesses
- Enliven the “vibe” of cities who want to attract a young, skilled workforce
- Train workers for 21st century jobs
- Attract tourists (NC’s number 2 industry)
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.
CALL TO ACTION:
Join ARTS North Carolina if you are not currently a member. You need us more than ever, and we need your financial support. www.artsnc.org
Join our list serv. Oops, if you are reading this, you are probably on our list serv, so do MORE.
Contact your local arts council and ask if they are forming a delegation to come to ARTS Day on April 12. If not, make your own plans. www.artsnc.org
Write your legislator and begin or grow a relationship. Schedule a visit when they are home and talk about your concerns.
KEEP IN MIND THAT ARTS FUNDING IS NOT A CONTRIBUTION; WHATEVER MONEY IS ALLOCATED FOR THE ESSENTIAL SERVICES WE PROVIDE BRINGS MONEY BACK TO THE STATE. WE ARE PART OF THE SOLUTION, NOT THE PROBLEM.