An inevitable result of any widespread economic downturn in America are rumblings and stories of politicians and policy-makers seeking to cut arts funding in their state. Never mind that the arts take up a rather miniscule part of any given state’s budget, and that diversion and distraction (in the form of the arts) are often what we most need in times of economic downturn, the great American impulse is: when the pocketbook constricts, it’s time to kill off the artists.
And so we’re seeing such stories start to roll out over the virtual transom:
- In New Jersey, which faces $32 billion of accumulated debt (and a $2.9 billion project budget gap this year), Gov. Corzine has announced plans for “deep cuts to higher education, health care and the arts…,” as well as to state employees’ jobs. This despite the fact that New Jersey’s art budget makes up only about $40-$50 million of an annual $33.5 billion state budget.
- Indianapolis, meanwhile, is facing its own budget woes and so is looking to cut the $1.54 million the city distributes to 75 local arts organizations. This has resulted, understandably, in a lot of nervousness among Indy’s arts community.