GA Arts Funding on Guillotine; Artists to March Mon., Apr. 19


Depending on how the legislative vote goes, Georgia could soon become the first state to zero-out — that is, eliminate — its arts agency, called the Georgia Council for the Arts.

Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday:

Story continues below.

The Georgia House on Wednesday passed a $17.8 billion state budget that would wipe out the GCA and transfer nearly $250,000 in granting funds to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to administer. The GCA operates with a $2.52 million budget this year and would have received $890,735 in Gov. Sonny Perdue’s proposed budget before cuts were required.

The article noted that the very existence of the Georgia Council for the Arts makes it eligible for appropriations from the National Endowment for the Arts — to the now-inconsiderable tune of $900,000:

In a letter to GCA officials, Patrice Walker Powell, NEA Deputy Chairman for Programs and Partnership, wrote, “We would need documentation addressing how the Georgia Department of Community Affairs would fulfill the responsibilities of the NEA Partnership Agreement. If the Department of Community Affairs is unable to carry out the Partnership Agreement, NEA support of $878,3000 for FY 2011 would be jeopardized.”

On Friday, meanwhile, the AJC reported:

A loose coalition of artists plans to show support for the Georgia Council for the Arts by marching from the Rialto Theatre to the Capitol on Monday afternoon.

By late afternoon Friday, the march’s Facebook page (“Artist march on the Capitol”) showed more than 200 supporters had confirmed plans to participate in the march.

Here, for those of you in Atlanta, are the details:

Monday, April 19, 2010
1:00pm – 3:00pm
Start at The Rialto, march to the Capitol.
80 Forsyth Street, NW
Atlanta, GA

Two thoughts on all of this, very quickly.

One: In a recent Arts Advocacy Update on the CFR, I mentioned an article I wrote for Back Stage that included quotes from Rachel May of Atlanta’s Synchronicity Theatre, who discussed the need to educate lawmakers about arts funding. As CFR readers know, I feel the nonprofit business model as it pertains to state arts funding is a mess: For more than 20 years now, each time the winds change direction, north or south, funding goes up or funding goes down, and it’s no way to run a railroad. Yet while I feel that we have remove public appropriations for the arts at the national, state and local level from political interference (and I believe that in states like Georgia this is all very political — as political as fiscal), eliminating a state arts agency is not the way to solve problems, either. And it doesn’t do employment one bit of good.

Second, an update: more than 300 people have signed up to march. The question is what will come out of it.