Monday, February 15, 2010

Arts Advocacy Notes for February 2010

The February Newsletter of Arts Alliance Illinois has just come out and there are several things that you  can do to convince Illinois legislators to support adequate and responsible revenue policies for our state. It is no secret that each and every creditor and agency is suffering, but the Arts have taken more than their share of hits in the past three years. You can join the members of the Responsible Budget Coalition at their rally in Springfield on Feb. 17th 2010. If you are in a position to attend, you can get more information here.

Since this is my first advocacy update in 2010, I thought I would remind you of the prime resources you can use to keep abreast of what is going on in the area. You can track advocacy issues yourself by enrolling in just a few key websites.

For targeted Illinois state arts information sign up for the Arts Alliance Illinois e-mail notification list

You can get on the Illinois Arts Council direct e-mail list by clicking on the link.

Unfortunately, If you go to the site, you will also have to read the news about how many IAC programs have been canceled and or cut back as a result of the state budget crisis.

The Americans for the Arts Newsletter will get you current news on the National Advocacy front. For instance National Arts Advocacy Day for 2010 is scheduled for April 12-13 in Washington DC. Get more information on that once a year lobbying day right here.

In another important development the Americans for the Arts have released their first National Arts Index. This is intended to be a yearly national temperature of the arts and you can see a picture of the health and vitality of arts in the USA between 1998 and 2008. From the linked location you can access summaries or the entire report. Unfortunately there is little to shout about as even though numbers of arts organizations and demand for arts education are up, over a third of all non-profits cannot balance their budgets. Arts budgets in the schools, as many of you well know, are under heavy attack all around the country. Arts and culture continues to lose their market share of philanthropy to other charitable areas—a decline that began well before the current economic downturn. And overall, the arts are not “stacking up” well against other uses of audience members’ time, donor and funder commitment, or spending when compared to non-arts sectors.

The Association for Theatre in Higher Education has an advocacy information section at this link.

The Educational Theatre Association has an advocacy outreach page at this link.

The American Alliance for Theatre Education site also has material on advocacy issues at this link.

You can even become an Arts Advocacy Fan on Facebook.
Although it dates from 2006, this site has good bibliography and outlines of general benefits of arts programs.

This last item is not really in the Advocacy bailiwick, but I did find it interesting. The Theatre Development Fund has published a book, “Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Playwright.” It tells of a six year study of relationships between playwrights and artistic directors. Did you know that the average professional playwright earns less than $40,000 a year and that a third of them earn less than $25,000 a year? See more at the TDF site.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Snow Crystals Add Some Beauty to the Long long long Winter

Just when a body is ready to scream for the end of winter, comes a Saturday morning of fluffy delight.  Every tree, every blade of saw greass, even the chains on our porch swing took on a magical coating of crystaline beauty.  Nuff said.  See more.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Illinois Railroad History Topic at "Journey Stories" Lecture

Professor Cortery is introduced by Larisa Good, director of the Warren County Public Library.

We learned a good deal about trains last week in a fine lecture by Monmouth College history professor and Illinois Road Scholar, Simon Cortery. The talk was one of several special events scheduled around the Smithsonian "Journey Stories" exhibition now on view at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth, Illinois.

A standing room only crowd of over 120 wedged itself into the children's room at the Warren County Library to get acquainted with the development of railroads in the state of Illinois. There were plenty of names and dates for the notetakers in the audience, but suffice it to say that the main point of how the railroads juiced the population growth of the state was clear to all. By the end of the first third of the 20th century, said Cortery, every farmer was no more than five miles away from a rail line.

The seminal line was the Illinois Central and its name came because it went north-south right down the center of the state (with a key spur that connected it to a sleepy little port town called Chicago). It was seminal because it literally helped to populate the state and William Douglas of Lincoln-Douglas fame was politically instrumental in making it happen. His debating partner, Lincoln, was also involved in the railroad enterprise. According to Cortery Lincoln's biggest paycheck came from winning a railroad case. The irony was that Lincoln had to turn around and sue the railroad to get his pay.

Corery also talked about the rise of passenger service, particularly the electrified interurban lines that connected smaller towns like Monmouth and Galesburg. My wife's mother talked about traveling to Monmouth from Peoria on one of them in the 1920's. On the Monmouth-Roseville run, which was too low traffic for a regular train, there were apparently single car gasoline or diesel powered carriages called Doodlebugs. One member of our audience talked about riding on one with his grandmother when he was a boy.

And did you know that the phone company, SPRINT, was actually a spin off from the Southern Pacific RR. Sprint is an acronym for Southern Pacific Railroad Intelligent Network of Telecommunications. Read the details at this link.

The "Journey Stories" exhibition will run until March 14th. Full program details can be found at the Buchanan Center web site or the Warren County Public Library web site. Coming next week is a showing of the film "El Norte" at Monmouth College (Dahl Chapel) at 7 PM on Feb. 9th and a session for seniors on "Writing Your Own Journey Story" at the Warren County Library at 10 AM on Feb. 10th.