Archive for the Ah Florida... Category

It’s been awhile since we’ve looked at what’s going on–funding-wise–across these art-hating United States. Shall we have a quick look-see?

Florida – You’ll Have Your Budget Cut by 50-80 Percent, and You’ll Like It

This quote, by Rep. Carl Domino (R-Jupiter), pretty much says it all: “The bottom line is at least they weren’t zeroed out,” he said. “That shows continuing support for history and culture.”

In a May 6 story titled Florida Legislature OKs cuts to cultural affairs, historic resources, the Palm Beach Daily News reports, “State funding for culture and historic preservation will fall sharply under the belt-tightening budget approved Friday by the Legislature. The Division of Cultural Affairs, which administers grants to cultural organizations, will get nearly $6 million — down from last year’s $12.5 million — while funding for the Division of Historical Resources, which oversees grants for history museums and historic preservation, will drop from $7 million to nearly $1.2 million. That’s a plunge from two years ago, when the state earmarked $32.7 million for culture and $18 million for history.”

According to one arts administrator, Florida’s arts groups will have to be “resourceful” to survive the economic downtown. “It will be survival of the fittest companies,” he said.

New Jersey – Things Even Worse Than During the Great Depression…

Favorite quote: “…the ideal [is} that art, with a capital A, should be incorporated into public buildings, as a high-ceiling barometer of culture in a civilized society. The irony is that the Statehouse Annex was built in the earliest days of the Depression. Still, art was not sacrificed. Not then, and not when the building underwent extensive renovation in the mid-1990s… [NJ Secretary of State Nina Mitchell] Wells seemed pained to explain why the arts and history funding under Gov. Jon Corzine’s proposed budget was being cut anywhere from 25 to 100 percent from a variety of programs.” –Mark Di Ionno, in a Star Ledger column titled “The irony here is art itself”

According to the story, “The New Jersey State Council of the Arts will lose nearly $6 million of last year’s $21.5 million in funds, a cut of 27 percent. The Newark Museum will see $2.3 million disappear from last year’s $4.7 million in funding. The Historic Commission will lose all $189,000 it paid out in project grants for history teachers and researchers. It will also lose $1.1 million from its supposed stable funding source, the hotel/motel tax, reducing its grant budget to $2.7 million. That’s 30 percent less than last year for the hundreds of volunteer-supported local history museums and societies around the state.”

And Let’s Not Forget Pittsburgh…

According to this story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Hempfield Area school district, facing budget shortfalls is eliminating world language at the elementary level, and limiting middle school art and music to one nine-week instructional block per school year, and cut the daily activity period high school students use for club participation.

According to the story: “At a special meeting Thursday night, administrators said their primary goal is to provide a ‘rigorous curriculum’ that meets the needs of all students, but a review of existing programs was necessary to put the focus on early intervention to ensure proficiency in reading and math and increased instructional time in the core content areas.

“The proposals outlined last night would affect four world language positions, three art positions, 2 1/2 music positions, two guidance counselor positions, two assistant middle school principals and one librarian.”

A recent article from Florida, one of the few recent growth zones for the arts in this country, further indicates the struggles facing arts organizations and the art infrastructure that underpins and supports organizations and artists in this country.

In the April 3rd edition of the St. Petersburg (FLA) Times, an article by John Fleming called “In troubled times, arts funding teeters” describes the current desperate budget situation in that state and the likely looming fallout for the arts. The Florida state legislature is dealing with a shortfall in tax revenue that may reach $3-billion, and “naturally the state’s arts programs were among the first times on the chopping block.”

The Republican House Speaker declared at one point that the whole Division of Cultural Affairs may have to be eliminated, marking a “new extreme” according to the article. “Not even in the uncertain economic conditions after 9/11 did anyone suggest doing away with arts funding entirely.”

And while it seems savvy arts advocates were able to lobby to have the Speaker’s proposal curtailed, cuts to the arts in Florida are projected to be between 30 and 75 percent of the most recent budget (to between $3 and $8 million), and this after a 61 percent arts budget cut in the budget from two years ago. The article concludes:

We’ve fallen far from 1990-91, when the division gave out $19-million in grants, making Florida a leader in underwriting the arts and its peer review evaluation system a model of smart administration…. Scapegoating the arts — which employs roughly 156,000 people in Florida, according to a study released last year by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat — is no way to strengthen the economy. It doesn’t make any sense, even while acknowledging that the state has huge budget problems

But since when did sense have anything to do with what happens in Tallahassee?