URGENT – VA Set to Eliminate Funding of Commission of the Arts

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

There will be votes on the House and Senate floors this THURSDAY, February 25, 2010.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Please contact your representative in the General Assembly, both Delegates and Senators to protest the recommendation of the House Appropriations Committee by Thursday. Fax and phone calls are best. Contact information can be found here: http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform

You can also contact Governor McDonnell and voice your support for the Arts in Virginia.  You can reach the Governor’s Office here:

Phone Numbers:
(804) 786-2211
Fax: (804) 371-6351
TTY/TDD (For the Hearing Impaired):
1-800-828-1120, or 711

Governor McDonnell is also on Twitter @bobmcdonnell

Here are some suggested points from Virginian’s for the Arts:

  • 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 to 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.
  • I 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.

If you are a fellow Virginian or lover of the Arts, help us saves the arts in the commonwealth. Spread the word, re-post, re-tweet this article, do what ever you can, but lets save the arts in Virginia.

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