VOL. 10 NO. 5
is published bi-monthly by the Kentucky Arts Council. Please send comments,
questions and information to The Blue Moon, Kentucky Arts Council, Old
Capitol Annex, 300 West Broadway, Frankfort, KY 40601-1980 or call 502/564-3757V/TDD
Toll Free: 1-888-833-2787
On July 17, the United States House of Representatives voted 225-200 to approve an amendment to the Interior Appropriations Bill adding $10 million to the $117 million budgeted in the legislation for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The additional arts funding was proposed in a bipartisan amendment offered by Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Christopher Shays (R-CT), Norm Dicks (D-WA) and Jim Leach (R-IA).
The arts spending amendment, which also adds $5 million to the budget for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), is identical to an amendment passed by the House last year and then dropped by congressional leaders in pushing through the FY03 omnibus spending resolution. This year, the vote to add arts money passed by a narrower margin than it did last year (234-192) because of the historic federal budget deficit and the loss of several NEA supporters in the House, who were replaced by a relatively large class of freshmen legislators. All six U.S. Representatives from Kentucky voted against the amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that would increase arts funding.
In another repeat of last year, Rep. Thomas Tancredo (R-CO) proposed a counter amendment that would have taken $50 million from the NEA budget and shifted it to the U.S. Forest Service Wildland Fire Management program. Tancredo's amendment was defeated 313-112, representing a wider margin of victory for arts advocates than his same amendment last year, which lost by a vote of 300-123. Kentucky's Representatives Ron Lewis and Ken Lucas voted in favor of the Tancredo Amendment, while representatives Anne Northup, Harold Rogers, Edward Whitfield and Ernie Fletcher voted against the shift in arts funds to the Wildlife Fire Management program.
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR
Americans for the Arts held its annual conference in Portland, Oregon in June. Americans for the Arts is the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. Their focus is on three primary goals: increasing public and private sector support for the arts; ensuring that every American child has access to a high-quality arts education; and strengthening communities through the arts. The conference also serves as a retreat for the Community Development Coordinators (CDC) from the various state arts agencies and was a wonderful opportunity to meet with fellow arts administrators and enthusiasts from around the country.
Discussion throughout the conference focused on the lack of education in the arts, the need for building audiences and participation, and the state budget problems currently facing the nation. Peers shared state-by-state updates, all of which, unfortunately, centered on shrinking budgets and arts agency cutbacks. Each state had a different story of how the legislature and governor are approaching the crisis, what politics will allow, and how arts leaders are attempting to address the problem. These concerns left everyone wondering what we could do as a group to position ourselves for the future.
Jonathon Katz, President and CEO of the National Association of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), added a great deal of insight to the ongoing conversation. He pointed out the role of politics in agencies are facing--including the fact that 24 new governors were inaugurated in January of 2003 (20 of whom were not of their predecessor's party). The current budget crisis is forcing these new leaders to make some very hard decisions. Katz urged participants to address the struggling economy by working with the state legislators as art advocates, not by taking a reactionary stance and lashing out at their decisions. According to Katz, "It's useful to say 'state budget crisis'; it's not useful to say 'the arts are being cut." He also suggested some practical measures for working with constituents' advocacy efforts by finding out who their advocacy 'point person' is and by making sure they have one. We also need to tell our own story. People who support the arts don't necessarily know of or support state arts agencies. We need to tell the story of our role and its value, which will only help position us for long-term success. In the end, the atmosphere of the conference turned from one of hopelessness to one of action. Participants loved Katz' term for what NASAA has been working on over the past year: strategic adaptation. Something we could all use a little more of these days!
Other highlights from the conference included a trip to Tillamook, a rural dairy community on the coast of Oregon (with more cows than people). Tillamook is the site of a project to incorporate community-driven public art into a new river walk being developed around a protected estuary that encircles the town. It is home to one of the only natural spruce swamps still in existence in the U.S. today, and is truly a beautiful area. Participants had the opportunity to visit with the project planners and discuss their strategy, which has tremendous local support as well as funding from the Oregon Commission on the Arts and the NEA. It was interesting to see the unique ways they had incorporated the arts into this conservation project. They have been working with local artists, and several artists in residence. The trip included boat rides up the slough, which provided a sense of the quiet, untouched beauty that the project hopes to preserve and honor. While it is still in its early stages, the planners are enthusiastic and the potential is enormous.
Guest speakers at the conference included Roberta Uno of the Ford Foundation, media mogul Russell Simmons, Kristy Edmonds from the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Dr. Rick Foster of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Dana Gioia, the new chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts. All of the transcripts from their presentations, as well as seminar summaries and handouts are available online at the Americans for Arts website. Visit their website to benefit from this year's program in addition to all of the other services Americans for the Arts has to offer.
Once more we work together to remind all Americans of the value of the arts and arts education and the need for everyone to enjoy lifelong learning in the arts and the humanities. While many of our colleagues find themselves dealing with the tough challenges brought on by our current economic climate, October is still a time to look at the larger picture and acknowledge how far we've come in building our case for support.
In this past year, national and local leaders have frequently cited the statistics gathered in the Americans for the Arts study, Arts and Economic Prosperity--$134 billion generated by the nonprofit arts community in national economic activity and 4.85 million equivalent full-time jobs supported. Those numbers confirm the role of the arts as an economic engine in large and small communities across the country and show that the arts can be part of the solution. Like last year, this summer the U.S. House of Representatives voted to increase fiscal 2004 funding for the National Endowment for the Arts by $10 million and the National Endowment for the Humanities by $5 million--a vote that repositions the arts as bipartisan with supporters on both sides of the political aisle and shows promise for the future.
We invite you to go to the Americans For The Arts website and look at the National Arts and Humanities Month Tool Kit. It includes a logo for your print materials, "Ten Tips for Parents to Keep the Arts in their Children's Lives," a sample proclamation for your elected officials to recognize the month, a participation questionnaire, and a sample 'Swiss cheese' press release to alert your local media of your agency's involvement in this national celebration honoring the contributions of America's artists, scholars, and cultural organizations.
We hope that you will take this opportunity to use National Arts and Humanities Month to celebrate the arts in your own communities. Our national visibility campaign about the value of arts education--Art. Ask for More.--continues, and we hope you can take advantage of the opportunity to place the campaign ads in your local media as well as in your own newsletters and publications.
Please keep the Americans for the Arts informed of your local plans and activities by visiting the online participation form. Thank you for the work you do to celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month and, most especially, for the work you do on behalf of the arts and humanities all year long.