Florida's Culture Cutbacks
April 25, 2003 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Rallies in the streets didn't do much stop it. The Florida Division of Cultural Affairs distributed $28M last year to 720 arts organizations. Gov. Geb Bush proposed a 57% cut to $12M. The House proposed $6.6M, a 78% cut. The Senate voted to abolish the fund, and today the House voted 67-44 in agreement with the Senate. Some Florida press are calling it "culture on the chopping block" but arts groups are mobilizing action in hope of some funding miracle.
posted by bclark (17 comments total)
 
If the works produced by these 720 arts organizations is really wanted, then perhaps individuals and private institutions can be persuaded to contribute funds outside of the government loop.

Just a thought.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:21 AM on April 25, 2003


Geb and Jeorge: The Bush Brothers.
posted by quonsar at 10:22 AM on April 25, 2003


from the 'culture...' link above-- A study released in 2001 by the National Governor's Association found that arts programs make "communities more attractive to highly desirable, knowledge-based employers," as they improve regional quality of life.. ... That kind of thing seems so obvious, but maybe not. Reading about this kind of action doen't do much to positively spin my already fairly dismal notion of what Florida is like (and I like the south).
posted by john m at 10:24 AM on April 25, 2003


I think that most people would agree that art is a luxary that is hardly afforded in these days of tightening budgets. It is sad when institutions lose funding especially in hard economic times, but better to cut here than in essential services.
posted by dancu at 10:26 AM on April 25, 2003


arts programs make "communities more attractive to highly desirable, knowledge-based employers"

...and knowledge-based employers privately fund lots of arts programs in their regions.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:27 AM on April 25, 2003


Akk, I Gebed Jeb. Oh, well ... I tried hard not to let my Metaleftists tendencies show through.

I'm on the board of advisors of one arts organization in Orlando that will be hit by this, and I can tell you that the sucky thing for arts organization is lean times is how funding dries up simultaneously along all sources.

The economy sucks, so tax revenue is down, so the arts lose funding. Look to your other sources.

The private foundations had endowments tied up in stock investements, those portfolios have diminished, so their granting size decreases for the arts, look to your other sources.

The business environment is difficult, so businesses that used to provide support for arts and culture organizations don't have as much money to support, look to your other sources.

The economy sucks so individual donors are less likely to make charitible donations, look to your other sources.
posted by bclark at 10:45 AM on April 25, 2003


The voters of Florida approved a ballot measure to reduce class size that is going to cost the state billions and billions of dollars. Oddly enough the voters don't want there taxes raised. All that money has to come from somewhere. Personally I'm not so saddened by this, because the liberals of the state approved the amendment and I generally view arts funding as a liberal type thing. It's a give and take. Give to the schools, take from the arts.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 10:47 AM on April 25, 2003


It's a give and take. Give to the schools, take from the arts.

[sarcasm] Surely you're not suggesting that economics is the balancing of unlimited wants against limited means! You mean I can't have my cake and eat it too??? [/sarcasm]

Otto: "They don't pay bills in Russia; everything's free." (Repo Man)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:51 AM on April 25, 2003


Sorry. I voluntarrily took in too much caffeine today.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:57 AM on April 25, 2003


Damn. I meant "voluntarily." See what I mean?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:58 AM on April 25, 2003


If the works produced by these 720 arts organizations is really wanted, then perhaps individuals and private institutions can be persuaded to contribute funds outside of the government loop.

Just a thought.

If the highways connecting to stores I never visit are really wanted, the perhaps individuals and private institutions can be persuaded to contribute funds outside of the government loop. If firemen that I never need to call are really wanted, then perhaps individuals and private institutions can be persuaded to contribute funds outside of the government loop. If parks for other people's children to play in are wanted then perhaps individuals and private institutions can be persuaded to contribute funds outside of the government loop.

And of course, I think our current war in Iraq is completely unnecessary, and I think the entire national defense system budget should be slashed- then perhaps individuals and private institutions can be persuaded to contribute funds outside of the government loop. (They're certainly doing a good job of that now that the war's over.)

The "essential services" argument is horseshit. We could slash many "essential services" in this country and resign ourselves to being able to destroy the entire world only seven times over instead of fourteen, and suddenly find ourselves with enough money to feed, clothe, shelter, educate, and adequately entertain and culturally stimulate every single human being in the country.

As Americans, we have no clue what it means to call a service "essential." "Essential" services like health care are declared a luxury commodity, yet you never seem to hear anyone complaining about the "socialized library" or the "socialized public work system."

But hey, I go to the park and the museums more than I go to the gas pump. I'm not trying to derail this into an argument about Iraq, but maybe that's why I'm a little bit more concerned about which ones of those are protected. From states to the country, there are extreme lapes in judgement of how much of what is "essential" and "necessary for the American people."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:01 AM on April 25, 2003


Every great civilization produced great art. In general, this art was subsidized by the government. Fortunately, in 1000 years, people will be able to look at Jackass: The Movie and say "Man, America really was a great nation."

Sarcasm aside, I put it to you that when a nation or state starts cutting art funding, it is a sign that that nation or state is in decline. It is like the moment that somebody who has always taken care of their appearance suddenly lets themself go - you know, stops bathing, stops changing their clothes, stop wearing make-up, etc.

Art is a means of celebrating a culture. When the only folks celebrating art are from the private sector, the private sector has more power to control what is celebrated. Your CEO doesn't like Neil Simon? Don't fund the local community theatre. Board of directors doesn't understand why anyone would like a violin concerto? Don't fund the local orchestra. Some loud mouth in your office has a problem with Asian painting? Only fund exhibits of classic European art.

All right, about to rant. The bottom line is, slashing art funding is a bad sign.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:36 AM on April 25, 2003


I put it to you that when a nation or state starts cutting art funding, it is a sign that that nation or state is in decline. It is like the moment that somebody who has always taken care of their appearance suddenly lets themself go - you know, stops bathing, stops changing their clothes, stop wearing make-up, etc.

Actually, that sounds more like the Sanitation budget took a hit...(rimshot)
posted by stifford at 12:08 PM on April 25, 2003


actually I think essential services are those like health care for the poor and institutions for the insane or mentally handicapped. Any artist I have ever known has been able to produce their art without the help of government welfare, I don't see why these institutions can't do the same.
posted by dancu at 12:19 PM on April 25, 2003


Dancu,

You are confusing the state funding artists to them funding arts and cultural organizations.

If you look at what the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs funded you find:

* "Arts in Education" programs for students in schools ($550K lost)

* "Cultural Facilities" grants ($13M for arts and culture centers)

* "International Cultural Exchange Programs" ($250K lost)

* "Underserviced Arts Community Assistance Program" ($170K lost)

There are some individual grants, but in 2002 fellowships to individual artists were 40 rewards totalling $200K (or less than 1% of the total.) So it's really cultural arts treasures that suffer, and facilities that incubate the arts, and student's exposure to culture that suffers.
posted by bclark at 12:33 PM on April 25, 2003


Any artist I have ever known has been able to produce their art without the help of government welfare

This is so not the issue. Yes, there will be driven people who can produce, say, concertos and plays; many of them will even get paid (perhaps by a university or a grant-making foundation). But theaters staging serious dramas, orchestras of musicians playing serious music—these institutions will not exist, either in physical buildings or in human staff, without infusions of cash. I grew up in the kind of midsized American city where such "beacon" institutions as playhouses were dependent on state dollars (which, it should be said, were often matching dollars, and the result of quite stiff competition for the grants).

Put simply: arts institutions that live today are already winners in a "marketplace" struggle that only funds the best (and/or the most boring*); without a higher-level commitment to supporting the arts, there just wouldn't be opportunities to compete for to put on performances and generally to make the arts part of American life in so many places where we love it. Seriously, how many people could afford unsubsidized tickets to the symphony, if you took away the patchwork of public/private support that makes it all possible?

*BTW, the argument that real starving artists don't need to care about the state arts program is BS. Slash the opportunities to be a cellist, a stagehand, etc., and there will be a nasty trickle down making "gutter" artistic life pretty unmanageable.
posted by Zurishaddai at 1:24 PM on April 25, 2003


The news stories linked to in the FPP didn't put the arts funding cuts into context. Our legislators in Florida made their first priority cutting taxes on rich people. At a time of rising unemployment, declining tourism, and a hugely expensive class-size amendment, the legislature reduced taxes on rich people, primarily by cutting the intangibles tax.

When you're reducing services to poor and middle-income people, it doesn't seem like a propitious time to cut taxes on the wealthiest residents of the state. But that's what the Republicans in the governor's office and legislature have done. There is much evidence to indicate that Jeb Bush has done some of these things to punish the voters for approving the class-size amendment.

Think about that a sec. The governor is punishing the voters for going against his wishes. Wow. What an asshole.

As usual when a single party controls the executive branch and both houses of a legislature, the Republicans are overplaying their hand and the voters will punish them. It's happening in D.C. and it's happening in Florida.
posted by Holden at 5:35 AM on April 26, 2003


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