Below is the statement issued today by the arts council with our comments inserted in bold.
2009 City Arts Funding Update
Mayor Ballard has proposed an allocation for arts funding of $1 million in the 2009 budget for the City of Indianapolis. This is a $543,500 reduction from the current 2008 city arts appropriation and represents a 35 percent reduction.
My property tax bill tripled. My tax bill is directly tied to local government spending. So to the public go huge tax increases, yet publicly funded arts is not supposed to tighten their belt too?
City funding supports arts outreach and education programs and many other community activities to 75 different arts organizations.
Some of these organizations, like the Childrens' Museum are flush with cash already! Check them out.
Reductions in 2009 funding will directly affect, reduce, and potentially eliminate the number of arts programs for the community and will reduce the number of citizens reached with the arts - including those underserved by other programs.
Did you know that there are hundreds of free art events in the city each year that are privately, not publicly funded? Gallery openings happen all over the city. Usually you can get a decent glass of wine and food while you are there. A recent opening at the Harrison Center not only served wine, but had a virtual buffet of more than 20 menu items. Funny how these things get done without forced taxation. The Harrison Center is located on a main bus route too!
While we understand the critical financial issues the city is facing, we are disappointed that the arts will face substantial cuts, more than other areas supported by the city.
We have people literally dying in the streets. Unfortunately, in spite of the pleas, public funded art is not reducing crime or increasing our high school graduation rates. We need to set priorities. And last we checked on Maslow's hierarchy of human needs, the "safety needs" are very low on the pyramid.
Public investment in the arts is critical to continuing not only the education and outreach programs supported with this funding, but also in leveraging private funding, generating economic activity and tourism, attracting and retaining younger people to our community, and providing a strong message that the arts are an important part of our city.
It can also be argued that withdrawing public funding can also be used to leverage private funding. I recently volunteered as much as 40 hours per month to help the arts in Indy only because funding was cut. I don't see a single person working on the public dime in the arts taking me up on the donation either. Look at the resource they waste!
The Arts Council of Indianapolis is supportive of our elected officials' efforts to increase public safety and manage the city's financial challenges. However, with the discussion of the possible elimination of city arts funding, we are concerned and opposed to the elimination of public support of the arts for the future of our city. We will work to continue the city's critical investment in the arts.
There is so much to do in the arts that is privately funded, a person could not do it all...ever! And the good news is that much of it is free for the taking! And further, there are several good arts websites to direct you where to go for the fun if you can't figure it out by reading INTAKE or NUVO.
Most events that charge admission will give you a free ticket if you volunteer. Don't believe me? Just ask.
What next? Today's announcement is the starting point of the budget process. We will be sending communications to all of our elected officials and will let you know the dates and times of all budget hearings.We predicted the arts elites would not go out without a lot of tears.
Over the next six weeks of the 2009 budget process, we will demonstrate how critical the arts are to the city and the importance of the city's support through budget presentations, meetings with the administration and elected officials, public hearings, and other information.
And we'll support through empirical common sense demonstrations that the arts will continue to go on and money will flow through voluntary channels rather than forced public channels. Not only that, but there will not be the censorship placed on the arts that happen through public money, as the elites in charge of our money often decide what is (and is not) good art for us.
We will also want some accountability as to how much of our money (and this includes the C.I.B.'s money) is used on fancy dinners, sports stadium access, and all the other perks enjoyed by our arts admins on the public dime.
Now more than ever, your voice must be heard. To get the latest updates, find out more information, and how you can help, go to www.indyarts.org/whattheartsmean.
It should be pointed out that not one of these individuals who professes such love and passion for the arts in Indianapolis has volunteered to give anything to the arts. Not one hour or one dime. While our taxpayers' advocate volunteered 40 hours a month. Who really cares and who doesn't?
And in closing, the taxpayers of Indianapolis would like to thank those in the arts for their concerns over the struggle of our citizens to remain safe and make ends meet. We can tell how much you feel our very real pain as we struggle to buy gas, pay our tax increases, and keep our homes from the sheriff's sale. The compassion from the arts for the guy struggling to pay the tax bills knows no bounds.