Philadelphia Business Journal
Business Pulse Survey
(June 12, 2009) - The Internet Business Pulse Survey recently asked, in light of the economic picture, if Pennsylvania should go ahead with proposed reductions in arts and culture funding. The response was overwhelmingly no, 74 percent.
Area civic and cultural leaders brought the cultural sector’s case for continued public support to the Pennsylvania State Legislature and to Congress over the last several weeks. Here are highlights of what they told elected officials, matching data with stories to provide compelling evidence that investing in arts and culture is good public policy.
Cuts in cultural funding hurt our most vulnerable communities most
Art-Reach exists to eliminate the barriers that prevent people with disabilities and economic disadvantages from participating in the cultural opportunities…Much of Art-Reach’s work depends on the health and vitality of the arts community as a whole, since so many of our activities are done in partnership with theatres, museums, gardens and other cultural organizations. That’s why state arts funding is so important. When cultural organizations are threatened with funding shortfalls, they very often scale back the outreach and education programs that…provide enriching and empowering cultural experiences to so many people who otherwise would never be able to have them. —Michael Norris, Executive Director, Art-Reach
Arts-based community development is vital to the 21st century economy, and breaks down stubborn geographic barriers
My belief that arts and culture are critical to the regeneration of urban places comes from decades of evelopment experience….Let me cite a good example. We financed the Crane Arts Building partially through the use of Federal New Markets Tax Credits. A former plumbing supplies building, it is now 120,000 square feet of artist work and performance space in a very poor and partially de-populated section of North Philadelphia. Crane has artists and designers of every imaginable kind; it symbolizes how a once obsolete manufacturing building can be a site for new product development. My hunch is that important product development in the 21st century is more apt to come from the industrial arts, design, and techno-media businesses emerging in renovated mill buildings, than from the fast money trails of global finance.
Just as importantly, Crane is a hub of social engagement. Performances are held there that draw people from throughout the region….Audiences that would never have ventured to that area now attend events there and as a consequence re-think the boundaries of their personal social geography. Today, new buildings nearby are under renovation as the vision of the Crane entrepreneurs has become an economic success and now a community anchor. —Jeremy Nowak, CEO, The Reinvestment Fund
SB 850 (a senate bill eliminating cultural funding) undermines our region's defining brand
If cultural organizations are forced to close, the domino effect on the local economy could prove devastating….Travelers are not selecting a location just to stay at a hotel. They are looking to visit exciting places that have a wide array of options to visit for whole families. Arts and culture is our defining brand, and thus a critical investment to maintain. And as residents look to save money, the idea of going on a "staycation" to affordable, local attractions has become more prominent than ever, but you can't take a staycation if there's nowhere to go in town, and SB 850 makes "nowhere" a real possibility. —Julie Hawkins, Vice President of Public Policy, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
Demand for arts and culture increases as institutional support slips
Despite the declines from businesses, government and foundations, public support for the arts remains high. Single ticket sales have remained level or even increased at 4 out of 5 organizations and almost three quarters of organizations report stable or increasing Individual Giving. This is incredible public interest considering that this is a time when people don’t have as much money to spend. It is a clear message that, for the residents in Southeastern Pennsylvania at least, the arts are vitally important to them. —Margie Salvante, Executive Director, Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia
Wagner Free Institute: How SB850 might wipe out 150 years of free science education
The Wagner Free Institute of Science is a perfect example of how a nonprofit cultural institution can get hit on all sides by these proposed cuts…The Wagner has been providing free science education for more than 150 years. (It) has an EITC-supported program called GeoKids that serves 400 students in three North Philadelphia public elementary schools with a yearlong science curriculum. Since 1992, GeoKids has helped more than 4,400 kids get excited about and succeed in science and learning. The program has received both local and national awards. EITC support helped the Wagner expand GeoKids into more classrooms. If this funding is eliminated, GeoKids is eliminated. On top of that, cuts in support the Wagner receives from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will force closures of Wagner's other programs, including a Saturday Family Open-House program that serves children and families; evening adult science courses that serve 2,500 people; and free access to the Institute's natural history museum and library collections. In one budget, you can wipe out 150 years' worth of free science education - that's the full effect of Senate Bill 850. —Julie Hawkins, Vice President of Public Policy, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
(June 26, 2009) -- Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $15 million increase for both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for FY 2010. Currently funded at $155 million, this increase would bring both agencies' budgets to $170 million.
Thanks to the arts leadership of House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA) and Congressional Arts Caucus co-chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY), this House-approved funding increase for the NEA exceeds President Obama's budget request by $8.7 million and is the highest proposed appropriation for the NEA since its $176 million peak in FY 1992. On June 25, corresponding legislation in the Senate Appropriations Committee set NEA and NEH funding at only $161.3 million each.
Next, the Senate and House will debate the differences in their budget bills. Take action and urge your federal legislators to support a $170 million appropriation for our nation's cultural agencies.
(June 10, 2009) -- This morning, the US House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee approved an FY2010 spending bill that funds the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) at $170 million. This is a $15 million increase over the current year but remains below the agency's previous 1992 funding high of $176 million.
Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA) has once again championed the arts and culture and proposed an increase in funding. In his statement, Chairman Dicks referenced the Arts Advocacy Day hearings the subcommittee held as demonstrating that "the endowments are vital for preserving and encouraging America's arts and cultural heritage." On Arts Advocacy Day, Americans for the Arts presented a panel of witnesses before Chairman Dicks' Appropriations Subcommittee calling for a significant increase in funding for the NEA. Witnesses included Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis, renown singer-songwriter Josh Groban, legendary singer Linda Ronstadt, Reinvestment Fund CEO Jeremy Nowak and Americans for the Arts President & CEO Robert Lynch. Pictures from the hearing and further details including the witnesses' testimony are available online.
An increase in appropriations for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to $170 million was also approved by the committee. The additional funding for both agencies is $9 million more than President Obama's original budget request.
The FY 2010 Interior Appropriations bill will next go to full committee and then to the House floor for final consideration where help may be needed to defend against floor amendments attempting to cut this increase. Arts advocates must now put pressure on the Senate to match this funding level. Please take two minutes to visit the Americans for the Arts E-Advocacy Center to send a letter to your Members of Congress letting them know why the arts are important to you.
(June 11, 2009) - Now that President Obama has picked Jim Leach to lead the National Endowment for the Humanities and Rocco Landesman, a successful Broadway producer, to head the National Endowment for the Arts, the Obama cultural team is complete.
Messrs. Leach and Landesman are probably not the choices initially expected from a president who was being lobbied just a couple of months ago to do something as bold as create a cabinet-level department of arts and culture. These are the choices, rather, of a president who doesn't want this to be a political fight. With these nominations it's also clear that Mr. Obama is not making a statement that great change is needed at either agency.
(June 10, 2009) - The House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior has approved a bill that sets the annual budgets for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities at $170 million each for fiscal year 2010. The current appropriation for these agencies is $155 million each and President Obama had requested an increase to $161 million. The new figure is still short of the N.E.A.’s high of $176 million in 1992.
(June 8, 2009) -- Senate Bill 850 died in committee today.
The bill, which proposed to eliminate all funding for arts and culture in the Commonwealth's FY2010 budget, failed to pass a vote taken in Harrisburg by the PA House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.
Though SB 850 was not adopted by the House, the budget battle is not yet over, and funding for arts and culture remains vulnerable. Governor Rendell now has an opportunity to resubmit his budget proposal, originally introduced in early 2009.
Since Pennsylvania's revenue projections have fallen substantially in the last few months, the Governor is expected to announce an additional $400-$500 million in cuts as part of his next proposal. Tax increases and dollars from the Commonwealth's Rainy Day Fund have also been suggested as possible options for helping to balance a growing budget deficit for FY2010. The Governor's proposal is expected soon, as the state is obligated to pass a balanced budget by the end of June.
As the Governor will need to make additional cuts to his budget proposal, it remains important for arts advocates to continue speaking out in support of state funding for arts and culture. To take action, click here.
(June 8, 2009) -- Building on a partnership established two years ago, the Library of Congress and the Foundation Center have issued the second edition of "Foundation Grants for Preservation in Libraries, Archives, and Museums," a web-based fundraising guide designed to help the preservation community ensure that the nation's millions of at-risk historical and cultural artifacts in libraries, archives, and museums are saved for future generations. The new edition of the guide includes the most recent grants awarded in the field to help fundraisers identify critical sources of funding.
. . . Foundation Grants for Preservation in Libraries, Archives, and Museums, 2nd edition," features information on 1,944 grants awarded by 488 foundations between 2004 through 2009 for projects related to preservation and conservation.
On May 18, the First Lady traveled to New York City to inaugurate the newly refurbished American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Later she moved on to the city's other Met--the Metropolitan Opera House--to celebrate the opening night of the American Ballet Theatre and speak to the glamorously packed house about the importance of the arts to "our future as an innovative country."
As a moment of social and cultural pageantry, the visit was a hit. But it carried an anxious subtext. More...
(June 4, 2009) - President Obama yesterday nominated former Republican congressman Jim Leach, who represented Iowa for 30 years and now teaches at Princeton University, as the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
As a highly visible politician for three decades, Leach, 66, may not seem a natural fit for the country's leading humanities job. However, Leach has had a hearty academic life, which is fitting for many NEH projects.
"I have a long-term interest in the humanities. The NEH is what some might think of as an out-of-the-way outpost in Washington, but it is a special place," said Leach from his office at Princeton, where he teaches public and international affairs. "The hallmark of our times is change and acceleration, but we have to provide the history."
(June 3, 2009) - The board of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has loosened the strings on some grants to arts organizations to help them weather a severe downturn in fund-raising and income from ticket sales and the like.
...In ordinary times, renegotiating grant agreements, as Duke is doing, would be unusual. But of the 79 foundations responding to a recent survey by the Center for Effective Philanthropy, 16 said they had invited organizations to do just that.