Two weeks ago, I noted the increasing pressure on state arts agencies, and in the process took two national arts service organizations (the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and Americans for the Arts) to task for not providing a single, easy-to-find place on their websites where concerned arts advocates could go to get the latest information on what’s happening across the country. That post quickly became the 6th-most viewed on Createquity ever, so it’s fair to say that this is an issue people care about.
Well, it looks like we have before us a case of “ask and ye shall receive.” Five days after my original post, NASAA uploaded this very helpful roundup of major state arts agency budget and restructuring proposals to its website. Not surprisingly, they have better information than I did: in addition to Kansas, Arizona, Texas, Washington, and South Carolina, several other states are facing significant restructuring proposals and/or reductions including Connecticut and Georgia (again). Also, in Texas, apparently the Governor’s budget includes money for the state arts council even though he proposed eliminating it in his State of the State address, so things aren’t quite so dire as might have seemed from news reports.
And now we hear this from the State Arts Action Network, an affiliate of Americans for the Arts:
[A brand new area of our website,] the state arts appropriations update section, officially launching tomorrow (February 24), features a clickable map that will take visitors directly to individual state pages featuring the most recent and proposed budgetary numbers for the arts. In addition, each state page will feature links to your SAAN organization(s), the state arts agency, and to either individual state action alert pages or the Americans for the Arts advocacy alert page.
This project is a high-priority one for Americans for the Arts and we are constantly updating the pages, so if you don’t see the information you are looking for just yet, check back in a day or two and you’ll have plenty of information to take in.
We hope that you find these new tools useful as you continue to advocate on the ground for state budget allocations throughout the country.
The page looks good, and if you click on the page for Kansas, for example, you can see that a House committee voted to override Governor Brownback’s executive order to eliminate the state arts council last week. Not the final word, of course, but at least there’s evidence for legislators fighting back. My only request would be for a news feed on the general, 50-state page that automatically updates with the latest changes to the state pages, so that I don’t have to hunt and peck to keep on top of things. But it’s a great start.
While we’re on the subject of arts advocacy for the 21st century, the general point I was making in calling for these integrated, big-picture resources was that we should be moving in the direction of fostering a sense of shared responsibility among arts advocates in every state for what happens to the arts in every other state. Along those lines, I just loved this note that I got last week from Lisa Carnevale, executive director of Rhode Island Citizens for the Arts. Lisa writes:
In the midst of this national fight against severe cuts and possible elimination of funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, we need to you contact your national networks!
As you have heard, Congress is poised to make significant cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts’ budget (as well as National Endowment for the Humanities and a zero out of Corporation for Public Broadcasting (NPR/PBS) funding). Yesterday, we heard two members of Congress have introduced amendments that would further cut, or terminate, funding to National Endowment for the Arts for the remainder of FY11.
While normally we would urge you to follow the links to send a letter to Congress, here in Rhode Island, our Congressional delegation already “get it”. Our most effective call to action would be to help further support our delegation when they stand against these cuts. Let’s reach out through our networks to put pressure on other members of Congress to ensure they stand against this as well!
Forward this email to your friends nationwide and ask them to send a letter or call their Congressional delegation!
You see what she does? She knows that Rhode Island’s two Representatives are already in the tank for arts funding. She could have declined to send any advocacy note at all, or just mechanically passed along the call to action to contact one’s own reps even though it wouldn’t have made any difference. Either choice would have been a total waste of Rhode Island’s advocacy network. Instead, she puts it to use by asking members to notify people in other states about the situation so that they can take action there. Any folks reached by this campaign who might not be already plugged in to their own state or national arts advocacy networks represent a win for arts advocacy. Well played, indeed.