Sorry - no show today. Catch Arts Day next week at regularly scheduled time on the DAMage Report. Meanwhile feel free to read today's topic about arts cutbacks and let me know what you think.
Artists and arts supporters marched on the Georgia State Capitol on Monday protesting the proposed elimination of the Georgia Council for the Arts. On Tuesday, a Senate panel concurred, returning funding to the GCA that the House had stripped from the state's arts agency last week. The Senate Appropriations Committee restored $890,735 (down from $1.6 mill that the GA Council received for 2010) that the governor had recommended for GCA, but the House had cut out. Georgia would have been the only state without an NEA recognized Arts Council to handle receipt of Federal funding for the arts. Georgia would have lost nearly $900,000 in matching federal grants for the arts. But we're not out of hot water. The skirmish was won but the battle wages on. The budget still has to pass the full Senate. Then House leaders have to agree to keep the money in when the budget is taken up by a conference committee.
In tight economic times arts are seen by many as frivolous and easily disposed of... because really...who needs art? It is ironic that two of the things we should be nurturing the most to ensure our future growth as a society, are two areas that are being squeezed dry and tossed aside. My friend Truble pointed out that education is the intelligence of society while arts are the heart and soul. Yet both of these VITAL areas are being reduced to minimums or eliminated completely. They have always been tied together since the first cave painting was used to instruct on how to hunt, and it looks like they are going down together. We are no longer educating and teaching our children, we are programming them.
Arguments that arts don't contribute to economic growth or have a valid, viable place in society have been proven ludicrous. Americans for the Arts states that "The nation’s 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences generate $166.2 billion annually in U.S. economic activity. They support 5.7 million jobs and provide nearly $30 billion in government revenue."
Arts assist in learning promoting higher SAT scores, arts hold a community together in tough times - the list goes on and on. Yet the perception remains that the arts are disposable. Georgia is just the beginning. With comments from the general public like:
"Disappointed, I thought the senate finally got something right by cutting the arts budget." and "No Backbone - Senate commitee seems to be a bunch of wimps." or how about this one "The weak and leaderless state senate has caved to the hundreds of artists outside the Capital?"
The public by and large remains uninformed about what arts contribute to jobs, education, cities economic structures and why it is vital to keep it from vanishing.
We can expect this war to wage on and spread across the United States. And while the arts will continue in small enclaves, kept alive by the passion of artists, we will be losing so much as our children lose the ability to think creatively, express themselves in new and unique ways, and are reduced to the minimal of what they can be as human beings. When a society is reduced down to mere survival, what are we surviving for?
Photo Credit: AJC