Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Arts Advocacy Update - Keeping the Pressure On!

by Sarah Browning, Split This Rock Director

This morning I had the privilege to meet with Kilin Boardman-Schroyer, Legislative Director of City Coucilmember (city-wide) Michael A. Brown, asking the Councilmember to support restoring a little over $1 million to the appropriation for the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities (DCCAH), which has been cut so drastically in recent years. (See the two entries below for more details.)

Mr. Boardman-Schroyer was quite forthcoming and straightforward. He told us that Councilmember Brown will be fighting to restore some of the cuts to essential human services in the Mayor's budget, ahead of restoring DCCAH funding. He urged the arts community, as a long-term strategy, to look to job creation and education funding as a way to supplement direct appropriations for the arts.

Given the threats to services to our city's most vulnerable citizens, I am sympathetic to Councilmember Brown's position. But those of us who work in the arts know that for a homeless child, an arts program may be the only thing keeping her in school. And we know that the arts help drive the city's economy, attracting tourists and visitors and residents who pay taxes, returning $7 of economic growth for every $1 invested. We know that the arts are not a frill but a necessity, as essential as bread.

I urge all DC residents to continue to bombard the mayoral and council offices with calls and emails calling for the restoration of DCCAH funding to the FY2010 level of $5.16 million. In the scheme of things, it's a tiny investment, yielding a huge impact. Many thanks!

Also - the mayor has proposed a very modest increase in the tax rate for DC's wealthiest residents. Council Chairman Kwame Brown opposes that increase. I believe that the city's most privileged can pay a little more to help feed and house our neighbors who have been devastated by this economy. If you agree, please contact the Chairman to urge him to change his position.

Many thanks to Robert Bettmann of the DC Advocates for the Arts for setting up today's meeting. Sign up for their alerts to stay up to date!

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