A few days ago this blog published an opinion critical of forced taxation to pay for arts funding appropriated by group of appointed political elites. On July 30th talk show host Abdul brought up arts funding cuts over on his popular Indiana Barrister blog. It was then I first predicted (inside the comment gallery) all of the crying and whining that was soon to come. Those tears, machine packaged as a plea "to Save Indy Arts", began to gush just a few days later.
It is completely possible to create fantastic art events that offer huge platforms for our local arts without public funding. That’s why Hoosiers For Fair Taxation is starting this creative dialogue. I happen to know a whole lot about how to do it, because I have done it and I loved every minute of it. And there are many others who create even bigger arts successes without public funding.
In 2004, I produced a self-funded national juried art event that gave $1000 in arts prizes to
We drew guests from both coasts that crossed all economic and social strata, received accolades in the press, and enjoyed coverage on art blogs and websites spanning three continents. The event became a reality through business sponsorships, a partnership with our free press (NUVO), advance ticket sales, artist entry fees, vendor booth rentals, and about 100 volunteers who worked for the love of art, free expression, and a V.I.P. ticket to the black-tie optional costume Ball. Oh…and they also had full access to our VIP volunteer “green room” stuffed with fancy mineral waters, fruit, and chocolate.
(My experience is recounted, complete with plenty of critical commentary, in the comment section here.)
From what I can gather from all the intel that comes my way, our public servants over at the art council are busy bees working a phone and email campaign to preserve their jobs and city funded perks. No doubt many emails were sent from our public servants while on the taxpayers' clock.
The "Save Indy Arts" website was up, networked, and publicized courtesy of the Channel 6 Capitol Watch and taxation friendly blogger Jen Wagner, just one day after we published city councilor Christine Scales open letter to the citizen employers (the taxpayers) and Mayor Ballard in support of getting real about arts expenditures, where the money is going, who benefits, in effort to reduce our mountain of red ink.
Councilor Scales knows that the financial position of the city is grave. Our elected leadership must figure out how to keep us from going into deeper bond debt with its mounting interest payments, while our check writing taxpayers scramble to figure out how to buy fuel, pay increased sales and property tax, and keep their homes (with rapidly declining home equity) from foreclosure.
Not of all Indy’s taxpayers and arts supporters enjoy perky "insider" government arts jobs, weeks of taxpayer paid vacations, personal time, holidays, taxpayer expensed fancy dinners at top tier restaurants, suite access to the stadium, and darn good health coverage, without giving more than we take from society.
It is past time for the arts community to roll up their sleeves with the taxpayers to come up with creative solutions that will benefit us all. Trust me. There are always solutions to every problem.
Contemplate the great words put into the American Consciousness by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy as he led our hearts for the first time as our nation's newly elected democratic President:
"And so my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you --
ask what you can do for your country."