Monday, September 17, 2007

THE ARTS ARE NOT PORK!

At an Advocacy Session at the Illinois Theatre Association on Saturday, September 15th, Ra Joy, Executive Director of the Illinois Arts Alliance explained in chilling detail the current Illinois budget stand-off. Unfortunately, that fight between the governor and the legislature is holding funding for the arts as one of the prime hostages. Money for the Illinois Arts Council and for art and foreign language instruction through the Illinois Board of Education has been labeled as "Pork" by our governor.

The next two weeks may be critical in resolving these issues. Many state arts agencies (including Monmouth's own Buchanan Center for the Arts) received notices this weekend that their 2008 grants may be cut from 33 to 50%. This means cuts to several local arts entities who have benefited from re-grant funds. These include the AAUW Art Presenter Program, Monmouth College, OFTA (Old Friends Talk Arts), and various schools.

An e-mail or letter to your state representatives and the governor is in order now if you believe these cuts need to be rescinded. Go to http://capwiz.com/artsusa/il/issues/alert/?alertid=10235401&type=ML&show_alert=1 and follow the simple instructions. Addresses and talking points can be selected.

If you want additional talking points on these critical issues or if you want to send information to your friends, you can find the Arts Alliance issue briefs for Arts Council funding and Arts and Foreign Language Education funding at: http://www.artsalliance.org/docs/adleg/FY2008_policyBriefs_artsEd.pdf

And finally, if you think you might be able to attend one of the regional budget hearings between now and the Sept. 27th, go the following site to see the dates, times, and locations. http://www.artsalliance.org/docs/2007%20Budget%20Hearings%20Schedule.pdf The Rock Island, IL meeting is on Monday, Sept. 24th at 6:00 PM at the County Bldg.

The time is short and the threat is real. Small rural arts groups and small rural arts centers like Monmouth's Buchanan Center are most at risk here because we have far more limited access to private wealth, large corporate givers, and major foundations.

No comments: