Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Arts in Crisis

Arts Funding Crisis in Ohio

Take Action!

As the economy in Ohio worsens, Governor Ted Strickland abandoned his long aversion to gambling and endorsed a slot machine at racetrack provision which he estimates will bring in more than $900 million during the next biennium, beginning July 1. In addition, he has proposed $2.4 billion in cuts to Ohio departments, agencies and commissions. The Ohio Arts Council, which had an appropriation of $25 million at the beginning of the current biennium and, because of the Governor's cuts during this biennium, which actually received and spent $21 million will suffer further cuts if the Governor's proposals are approved by the Conference Committee on HB 1 (the budget) and pass the House and Senate.

The Governor proposes that the Ohio Arts Council have $13,188,578 to spend in the next biennium (July 1, 2009-June 30, 2011). This would take us back to near the level of 1985 spending. We are in an historic economic collapse, certainly worse in Ohio than in the Country as a whole. There are those few in the Legislature who advocate (we are told because no one has publicly said this) that the Ohio Arts Council be eliminated. In what should be the last week before the approval of the budget, it is imperative that we reinforce to every member of the Legislature and the Governor our message of the importance of the arts in so many aspects of our citizen's lives, but especially EDUCATION and ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

We must also tell them that we understand the nature of our economy and the tough economic decisions that they have on their plates. But, what we propose, for very little monies, out of a $55 billion budget, is to help them with partial solutions to their most vexing problems. We are now at the final act of our budget play, we have the power to see that this play has a happier ending than presently appears. I quote again the old Anglican hymn "Let us march with vigor on!"

Please take action today and ask four friends to join you in making contact with their legislators.

William P. Blair

Legislative Counsel

Ohio Citizens for the Arts

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