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2.23.2010

Attention Virginia Art Lovers!

On February 21 the Appropriations Committee of the House of Delegates voted, 15-7, to cut state funding for the Virginia Commission for the Arts by 50 percent in 2010-11 and to eliminate the agency completely as of July 1, 2011. The Senate Finance Committee has adopted the proposal in the budget bill submitted by Governor Kaine not to make further cuts in state funding for the Commission for the Arts.

There will be votes on the House and Senate floors later this week on the proposals from the two committees. The different versions of the 2010-12 budget bill approved by the two house of the General Assembly then go to a Budget Conference Committee to resolve the differences.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO NOW

Virginians for the Arts is encouraging all of its members to do two things:

1. Contact your representatives in the General Assembly, both Delegates and Senators (fax and phone calls best), protesting the recommendation of the House Appropriations Committee. Legislator contact information can be found on the web here.


2. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspapers with the same message.

These actions must be taken in as soon as possible (at least by end of the week) in order to have any impact on the final decisions on the state budget.

Please take action and help us spread the word with other arts advocates in every way (website, email, social networking, etc.)

Talking Points for These Contacts with Legislators and Letters to the Editor

  • The House Appropriations Committee, on a divided vote, has made a short-sighted decision about state funding of the arts, proposing a 50 percent reduction in state funding for the Virginia Commission for the Arts in the first year of the new biennium, and eliminating the agency completely in the second year.
  • The arts community recognizes the severity of the budget problems facing state government and expects to share in the budget cuts and has already been cut by 30 percent over the last two years.
  • However, every dollar that the state invests in the arts through the Commission returns $7 in investment by private citizens, businesses, and local governments.
  • The Commission made matching grants to Virginia local governments of half a million in FY 2009-2010 to support festivals and programs generating tourism and attracting business and cultural activity throughout the state.
  • The Commission is funded at the lowest per capita level among state agencies of surrounding states.
  • Elimination of the Commission would also mean the loss of Federal funds for arts in Virginia ($1 million in FY 2009-2010).
  • The arts contribute to the economic vitality of Virginia communities. Localities such as South Boston, Richmond, Lynchburg, Blacksburg, Alexandria, and Petersburg are using the arts as a lynchpin for attracting business and economic development.
  • Artists and arts organizations work in Virginia schools to expand educational opportunities for children so important to developing a creative workforce. The arts have stepped in to meet cultural education needs of our children where these programs are being cut in the schools. Funds provided by the Virginia Commission for the arts often represent the only opportunity for children in rural areas to be exposed to arts and culture.
  • The arts provide jobs, and cultural tourism as an important part of Virginia tourism promotion efforts.
  • Over the past two years the arts have faced large spending cuts, cancellations of performances, staff layoffs, and galleries closing. Minimizing further cuts in state arts funding is essential to the survival of Virginia's cultural infrastructure. CUTS OF THE MAGNITUDE BEING PROPOSED WOULD CAUSE ARTS ORGANIZATIONS, BOTH LARGE AND SMALL, TO CLOSE THEIR DOORS throughout the Virginia.
  • We urge you to vote against the proposal of the House Appropriations Committee. The small investment the state makes in the arts has a major impact on local economic development, tourism, and education.
Thank you for your essential support! Action by our advocates will make all the difference!
Trish Poupore
Virginians for the Arts
(804)644-2787

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