Thursday, November 12, 2009

November Arts Advocacy Bulletin

I participated in a conference call for arts advocates on behalf of the Illinois Theatre Association on October 22, 2009. It was set up by Arts Alliance Illinois and featured input from legislators, lobbyists, and Mr. Terry Scrogum, Executive Director of the Illinois Arts Council. Mostly it was bad news. Illinois arts funding has declined by an average of 49% this year and next year may be even grimmer. At a total of 7.8 million dollars this is the lowest Illinois dollar amount investment in the arts since 1988.

Our state legislators have now left Springfield until after the February primary elections effectively putting off dealing with any of the state’s many budget problems (including the arts) for another three months. This is not good, but it does mean that your state representatives may be more accessible in and around their home districts. If you will go to the web site below and enter your zip code, you can get contact information for your specific state legislators. I would ask you phone their office or send a letter to them. Tell them that you are a constituent, mention any local arts affiliations you have, and mention that you are a member of the Illinois Theatre Association. Ask them to support some restoration of funding for the Arts Council and to support coherent tax reform for the state of Illinois.

Here is another way to stand up and be counted. If you represent an Illinois arts organization, participate in the Cultural Data Project. “If you can’t count it, it doesn’t count” is a common watchword in Springfield. Visit for more information on the Cultural Data Project.

Do you live in the Peoria area? Rocco Landesman, the new chairman of the NEA will be visiting Peoria in November as a part of his “Art Works Tour of America.” He did not start his tenure too well when he wondered after his appointment whether there was any theatre in Peoria, but he has since recovered from his gaffe and is now scheduled to see Eastlight Theatre's production of "Rent." while in town. I would love to hear how his visit went. This would be a good use of our new ITA Facebook group.

Are you looking to volunteer for the arts or to find a volunteer project for your arts group to participate in? Try this site and plug in your state, area, city, or zip code. Wow! You may even stumble on something that pays.

There is at least some good news on the national arts scene. The U.S. Congress Approved 12.5 million dollars in budget Increases for the Arts and Humanities Endowments on October 29th. The final budget was decided in conference week and passed by a vote of 247–178 in the House and 72–28 in the Senate. To find out if your congressman supported the bill and to send an e-mail either congratulating or chastizing go to:

Wherever you might live I challenge you to consider that if you don’t give voice to the arts who will? And if you don’t act now, when will you start? A full recap of Advocacy Resources on the Illinois Arts Funding crisis is at this web site. I hope that you will use some of them.

No comments: