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Allyson Schwartz's Position on Arts and Culture

Allyson Schwartz provides answers to seven questions regarding arts and culture:


1. Funding for Grants to the Arts, through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, has received a 47% cut since 2008. These grants reach non-profit arts organizations in all 67 counties, in both rural and urban communities and organizations both small and large. The program is currently funded at $8.179 million and ranks 24th nationally in per capita funding at $0.71. With the exception of West Virginia, all the states contiguous to Pennsylvania rank higher. Would you support an increase, over the next three years, to $1.66 per capita which represents the average of the per capita number of the states bordering the Commonwealth? Why or why not?

AS: Yes. Funding for Grants to the Arts definitely needs to be increased, and I will make that a priority. I will meet with arts groups and other stakeholders to set a set a fair, representative, and achievable budget goal.

2.   In 2009, Governor Rendell cut the $9 million grant-making budget for PHMC grants to non-state-owned museums and historical sites. In 2013, Governor Corbett created a new line item for Cultural and Historical Support grants to non-state-owned museums and historical sites, which continue to be funded at $2 million.  Due to the decrease in funding for the grant program, grants are only issued to museum and historical sites with larger budgets, and thus smaller non state-owned organizations are shut out from the process. Would you support an increase in the Cultural and Historical Support grants in order to make it more comparable to the $8.179 million that PCA receives from the state for grant-making?

AS: I will support an increase in the Cultural and Historical Support grants. I will meet with arts groups and other stakeholders to set a set a fair, representative, and achievable budget goal.

3. There are several bills in the General Assembly that deal with dedicated funding for arts and culture. These bills direct funds from either the collection of the realty transfer tax or the hotel occupancy sales tax, all revenue from the General Fund, to these dedicated funding streams. Would you support dedicated funding streams for arts and culture? How might dedicated funding streams affect arts and culture line items in the state budget? 

AS: Yes. A dedicated funding stream is the only long-term solution and a necessary one. I will meet with arts groups and other stakeholders to set a fair, representative, and achievable budget goal.

4. Currently the arts (visual arts and music) are not considered a core academic subject in Pennsylvania as they are under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Would you support the inclusion of the arts as a core subject?

AS: Arts programs are under constant assault in our public classrooms because of budgetary restrictions, plus a harmful focus on standardized tests and the pressure for educators to “teach to” those tests. I support increased support and focus for the arts in our schools. My sons are the well-rounded men they are today due, in part, to the arts and humanities education they received in public schools.  We must ensure that current students are able to obtain the unique experiences that only exposure to the arts can provide.

5. Would you be supportive of increasing the capacity of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit to target specifically STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) programs in its provisions for contributions to approved Educational Improvement Organizations?

AS: I will maintain the Educational Improvement Tax Credit and ensure that it benefits the greatest number of students and improves student performance. I will also review the impact of the newer Opportunity Scholarship tax Credit program.

As both a former Democratic Chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee and a former senior member of the House Budget Committee in Congress, I know that budgets are statements of our priorities and principles. As governor, I will ensure that my budgets include the necessary investments to provide greater opportunity to our children and families.

6. Pennsylvania has been heralded as “Hollywood East.” The state’s Film Production Tax Credit has been responsible for creating 18,000 jobs and generating $2.7 billion in economic activity since 2007. But with the tax credit cap set at $60 million, Pennsylvania has lost out on blockbuster filming opportunities to states like Massachusetts, which has no cap. Would you support uncapping the film production tax credit to attract more film business to Pennsylvania?

 AS: I will expand the Pennsylvania film tax credit, which has been influential in bringing numerous movie productions to our state. These productions have generated millions of dollars for the state's economy, primarily to benefit small business activity.

 7. 12 states, including Maryland and West Virginia, have formal state policies to incentivize the creation of cultural districts which have been proven to trigger economic development and neighborhood revitalization because of what arts and culture actually does: bring tourist spending, attract creative businesses, increase property values, etc. Cultural districts, which number 156 nationally, are in both urban and rural settings. Policies to support the creation of these districts include state tax incentives to leverage local investment in the arts and culture and technical assistance programs. Is state policy to help create local cultural districts through Pennsylvania an idea you could support?

AS: I will support policies to create cultural districts.