Arts Funding: Filling in the blanks
I have supported the arts in Indianapolis and been involved in the "scene" for 22 years. My home is stuffed with my 20 year collection of local art. In 2004, I self-funded and produced a national juried art ball that drew 1000 guests from both coasts, paid a lot of people, drew 100 volunteers, and made a small profit. I did it without public funding. I know what I'm talking about.
The arts council funding is not going to the causes that the "save indy arts" crowd would have you believe.Did our city council approve art funding in the first place so that institutions that already run well into the black get the lions' share of taxpayers' dollars that we often borrow from the bond bank? I hope not!
And I hope every member of our council understands that our homes are collateral to the bond bank that floats the loans. The bond bank lending is the crux behind the property tax crisis faced by Marion county homeowners. Please read the blog entry for August 21st on HoosiersForFairTaxation.com website. Here you can read how the arts council chairman (Don Appel) took good care of his top insurance clients of Gregory and Appel to the tune of more than $700,000 in arts grants (that we know about).
You will also learn by reading our blog that two arts journalists (David Hoppe and Travis DiNicola) in Indianapolis accepted $2,750 in Renewal Fellowship Grants from the arts council. Why are journalists being paid off by our arts council? Is that so the arts council can count on Indy's arts media to keep quiet as they self-deal with our funds?
You will also learn that the woman behind the "save indy arts" hysteria lives in Hamilton county and makes her PR/communications living off the very rich institutions who receive most of the arts council funding. Individuals who do not live in Marion county, by law, have no voice in how our money is spent. She lives off Marion county taxpayer funds...no wonder she's upset! Do not accept her testimony at council meetings. You represent only Marion county taxpayers.
Our city did not see a reduction in crime because of arts funding. Our city did not see higher graduation rates because of arts funding. In fact, last I checked, IPS is the poorest performing school system in the entire country next to Detroit...and Detroit's mayor is in jail!
What we are seeing is insiders feeding at the trough at the taxpayers' expense at a time when our city is in dire financial shape. Now is NOT the time for our leadership to loose its political will to cut spending for all non-essential services.
City councilors and the mayor need not fear support from the public on cutting arts funding. Hoosiers For Fair Taxation and our band of activists will be at the September 9th city council meeting and plan to testify and distribute literature so the public can see how they are being deceived by the arts council.This information is currently being distributed to the media by numerous taxpayers who are gravely concerned about the fiscal health of our city.
Unfortunately, we are not full time communications specialists or journalists. We are real people with real jobs working hard to keep up with inflation and staggering tax bills.
For those of you who told taxpayers that you are accountable to responsible spending, now is the time to own your words. Now is the time to stand beside Councilor Scales and show that you care about the dire financial situation faced by our city enough to do something about it. Taxpayers have your back. You will not be left standing alone when you stand up for the taxpayers and our financial health.
Mayor Ballard needs to know that we expect him to keep his promises to cut the arts funding. And that we do not expect him to bend because Lisa Sirkin, a PR/communications specialist profiting from the arts, starts hysteria via internet social media websites, her personal email list, and the save indy arts website.
To illustrate how little regard the arts council has for the taxpayer, a 2006 fundraiser reported on their IRS statement, lost $38,000! How on earth do you lose $38,000 putting on a fundraiser if you care about the public's money? We also found a line item called "miscellaneous" that funded $159,000! More than 10% of the arts budget marked as "miscellaneous".
We need the grownups to step in now and put a stop to spending money we don't have. Taxpayers are counting on our city council and Mayor Ballard to make responsible choices for the people and our children's fiscal future.
I recommend all of you immediately go see I.O.U.S.A., the documentary with former U.S. comptroller David Walker. It is in theaters now and is an urgent warning from our former comptroller that America needs to wake up now or we will lose America.
Melyssa Donaghy, editor/activist
HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAXATION
This message is copied to Indy's news media and they are listening.