Artistic Self-Expression is High on the List

I fell upon the blog of Michael Fallon this morning.  It’s juicy title “The Chronicle of Artistic Failure in America”  as the title suggests, and to quote him   is a “look at how art is failing in this country—told from a number of different vantage points and examining various aspects of the phenomenon. Part journalism, part concentrated research, part memoir—it’s a series of blog-postings and articles that tell the tale of his own failure as an artist and what this failure has meant to him and to his life’s course. It is also a record the author’s odyssey to understand the struggles of myriad failing and failed artists across the communities of this country, as well as the failure of the entire structure that supports artists and arts viewing. Though this topic is potentially depressing, He is collecting and presenting the information for only the most hopeful of reasons: That we somehow, someday may collectively rise up and fulfill our national creative promise.” 

I promise,   I am going to take time to read his collection. Especially since receiving my most recent distressing email from Senator Jim DeMint of SC complete with so many factual errors-  Any comments Mr. Fallon or from any of you would be much appreciated No Mr. Fallon you haven’t failed – maybe we can gain some momentum  like the Internet Dancer. Lets push shall we?  “For me , artistic self-expression is high on the list of things that would make life worth living  Lets not read it and weep.!   

Dear Ms. Bahr,

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). I appreciate hearing from you. I have immense respect for the teachers, artists, and performers who inspire us to appreciate beautiful creations or try a different path or approach to problem solving.

However, I believe that funding for the arts and humanities is better handled by private organizations and individuals, not the federal government. The U.S. arts industry is alive and well, without the help of the NEA. While last year the NEA and NEH each received over $120 and $145 million, respectively, private donations to the arts and humanities top $13.5 billion a year. Ticket income for the performing arts rivals that of the professional sports and motion picture industries. As a nation and as individuals, the arts add to our lives and we support them.

For these reasons, I will continue to encourage private businesses, schools, and individuals to participate in, encourage, and financially support the arts in any way possible. However, I will not vote solely to increase funds for the NEA and NEH as I believe it is beyond the scope of Federal responsibility.

Thank you again for sharing your views with me. Please feel free to contact me in the future about any issue important to you or your family. It is an honor to serve you and the people of South Carolina.

Jim DeMint
United States Senator

So what do you think? … Well if you read below – this phenomenon is everywhere – one of my favorite posts of Mr. Fallon

It’s been awhile since we’ve looked at what’s going on–funding-wise–across these art-hating United States. Shall we have a quick look-see?

Florida – You’ll Have Your Budget Cut by 50-80 Percent, and You’ll Like It

This quote, by Rep. Carl Domino (R-Jupiter), pretty much says it all: “The bottom line is at least they weren’t zeroed out,” he said. “That shows continuing support for history and culture.”

In a May 6 story titled Florida Legislature OKs cuts to cultural affairs, historic resources, the Palm Beach Daily News reports, “State funding for culture and historic preservation will fall sharply under the belt-tightening budget approved Friday by the Legislature. The Division of Cultural Affairs, which administers grants to cultural organizations, will get nearly $6 million — down from last year’s $12.5 million — while funding for the Division of Historical Resources, which oversees grants for history museums and historic preservation, will drop from $7 million to nearly $1.2 million. That’s a plunge from two years ago, when the state earmarked $32.7 million for culture and $18 million for history.”According to one arts administrator, Florida’s arts groups will have to be “resourceful” to survive the economic downtown. “It will be survival of the fittest companies,” he said.

New Jersey – Things Even Worse Than During the Great Depression…

Favorite quote: “…the ideal [is} that art, with a capital A, should be incorporated into public buildings, as a high-ceiling barometer of culture in a civilized society. The irony is that the Statehouse Annex was built in the earliest days of the Depression. Still, art was not sacrificed. Not then, and not when the building underwent extensive renovation in the mid-1990s… [NJ Secretary of State Nina Mitchell] Wells seemed pained to explain why the arts and history funding under Gov. Jon Corzine’s proposed budget was being cut anywhere from 25 to 100 percent from a variety of programs.” –Mark Di Ionno, in a Star Ledger column titled “The irony here is art itself”

According to the story, “The New Jersey State Council of the Arts will lose nearly $6 million of last year’s $21.5 million in funds, a cut of 27 percent. The Newark Museum will see $2.3 million disappear from last year’s $4.7 million in funding. The Historic Commission will lose all $189,000 it paid out in project grants for history teachers and researchers. It will also lose $1.1 million from its supposed stable funding source, the hotel/motel tax, reducing its grant budget to $2.7 million. That’s 30 percent less than last year for the hundreds of volunteer-supported local history museums and societies around the state.”

And Let’s Not Forget Pittsburgh…

According to this story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Hempfield Area school district, facing budget shortfalls is eliminating world language at the elementary level, and limiting middle school art and music to one nine-week instructional block per school year, and cut the daily activity period high school students use for club participation.

According to the story: “At a special meeting Thursday night, administrators said their primary goal is to provide a ‘rigorous curriculum’ that meets the needs of all students, but a review of existing programs was necessary to put the focus on early intervention to ensure proficiency in reading and math and increased instructional time in the core content areas.  The proposals outlined last night would affect four world language positions, three art positions, 2 1/2 music positions, two guidance counselor positions, two assistant middle school principals and one librarian.”

Or the burning of Atlanta!

According to an April 13 story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that city is facing a looming $119 million budget shortfall. And of course, as any good CAFA reader would expect, the city is poised to make an assault on its cultural institutions. “When city budgets get tough,” the story begins, “arts and recreation programs are typically among the first to get cut…

“If the City Council approves the across-the-board cuts, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of the city’s current budget shows that the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department will lose more money than any nonpublic safety department — $8.1 million.” Said one commentator: “The arts are generally the service to get cut because many people don’t see the value.”

ARRRGGHHHH ! Yes it all makes me very angry . 

What can we do?

I suggest we make time for an Arts Happy Hour.   Happy hour (also according to Wikipedia) is “a period of time in the late afternoons, Monday through Thursday, and sometimes Friday (usually taking place between 4 pm and 7 pm…) during which some restaurants and bars give discounts for drinks, especially alcoholic drinks. The idea is that it acts as a promotion of the venue during the quieter times.” 

Our Mission (If we decide to accept it) is :

The Art Happy Hour! (Sacramento Ballet calls it Beer and Ballet) will take place once a month somewhere in the Upper King Street area.  It will a good time for all. It will be sometimes epic, sometimes underwhelming (especially if there is flash flooding) A time to relax, unwind, chill out, etc. It will be artistic and happy. Of course, we promote the idea of responsible and safe drinking and encourage participants to consider arranging transportation when engaging in a good happy hour. We want everyone to live long ornery lives full of art and happy hours, but we can take no responsibility for people’s behavior, such as it may be. Beer & Ballet” brings the audience into the dancers’ “home.” The fact that it is so informal is the main reason for its existence. one of my goals is to remove the capital ‘C’ from culture. No one should think that ballet isn’t for everyone.”  Lets try to get Jim DeMint on board.!


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