Friday, August 07, 2009

Theatre Arts Advocacy for August and Beyond


Will these young people still be filing into theatres across the country next year? Will the proven benefits of fine arts exposure and fine arts participation for our children be constricted once again? The future does seem gloomy.

Wrestling with reduced budgets is my advocacy issue of the month. Stories of arts woes seem to appear in the papers and on the web sites I monitor with increasing frequency. The Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth (on whose board I sit) joined the chorus last week as it contemplated the impact of a 46% decrease in Illinois Arts Council funding. Other agencies in your home communities are no doubt dealing with similar crises. And the Illinois Theatre Association (on whose board I also sit) is an Arts Council recipient and will be looking at funding cuts too. So, if you live in Illinois, I ask you again to communicate with your legislators and our governor. For background look at the Illinois Arts Alliance’s summary that deals with the impact of FY09 arts cuts. It gives you all the ammunition you need to compose a letter or e-mail. http://artsalliance.org/docs/090617/Survey%20Summary.pdf

If you live outside of Illinois I encourage you to support the arts by writing to your legislators and by calling your national representaitves. State arts councils receive support from the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) and budget support on that level is also desirable.

In spite of difficulties the arts do continue to function. First Lady Michelle Obama has been traveling the country promoting arts education early and often. See the full article here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/07/24/national/w122858D08.DTL&type=news


From the Illinois Humanities Council comes the affirmation that Studs Terkel lives on. "The Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award is a biennial honor bestowed on individuals who carry the torch of the humanities. These humanities heroes are nominated by Illinois mayors and Nomination forms are due September 15, 2009. If you have someone in mind who has made a major contribution to the arts or the theatre in your community, get more information at http://www.prairie.org/files/ihc/FAQ%20Sheet-smaller.pdf The application form is available at http://www.prairie.org/files/ihc/Nomination%20Form.pdf "

Americans for the Arts has reminded me that October is National Arts and Humanities Month.
"Be one of the 10,000 communities and millions of people who celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month every October. Start your planning today by visiting the NAHM website, where you can find planning and advocacy toolkits, as well as free downloads of the NAHM logo and web stickers that can easily be placed on websites, blogs, and social network user profiles. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nahm or friend us on Facebook. The NAHM national arts events map is launching in August and we want to include your October calendars, program information, and volunteer opportunities. For more information, contact Americans for the Arts at nahm@artsusa.org."


As noted by Americans for the Arts and supported by outside research, we should continue to remember that participants in arts programs are more likely to have higher test scores than non-participants. Studies continue to show that arts programs help keep students from dropping out of school. Working in the arts encourages the development of creativity, problem solving, and teamwork among students. Young people in arts programs become more self confident and tolerant. If you would like a checklist titled: “Ten ways for parents to help promote the arts for their children.” Check out:
http://www.americansforthearts.org/public_awareness/get_involved/001.asp

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