Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The state of State Grants for the Arts

In this economical and political climate, the arts are taking a beating. State grants, which have funded many institutions and individuals for decades are rapidly evaporating, and in some states, like Kansas and Arizona, it's already disappeared. Others cut less, for example: Texas, cut 50%, Wisconsin, 67%, New Jersey, 23%  Louisiana by 45%. Many organizations cannot survive on donor's contributions and admission revenues and are threatened, or dead. In terms of the totals, state grants fund only 5%.

Overall, state arts funding has dropped from $355 to $259 million, a drop of about 25%. In Florida, we are facing an 11% cut. These cuts are not felt evenly across the board. because larger, established organizations have a much easier time getting grants. It's going to hit individuals and smaller organizations the hardest.

Although Kansas and Arizona remain alone in eliminating its arts funding organization, GOP Florida legislators brought it up in 2010 and 2011, but failing to find support, dropped the effort.

By eliminating their arts organizations, states lose their shot at getting Federal arts dollars, which also shrinks their economies further, reducing the number of jobs.

No matter what happens, the arts will go on. Artists have made art through far worse situations than this, and it is likely to get worse than it is now. We should remember that the most substantial way to fight back is with our vote. It may seem like a small  and abstract thing, but it is crucial. Inform and network with other artists and speak up, even to friends and neighbors.

--- Luis

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