As we enter the 2011 Louisiana legislative session, the Louisiana Partnership for the Arts Advocacy (LPAA) believes it is vitally important for our citizens to be fully informed of the consequences of state funding decisions over the past two years. Such decisions, which have been far more drastic than most state offices, impact not only jobs of artists and those who work for arts organizations, but also tourism and rural communities.
Please read and share the LPAA Statement of Position below. Then, join us in communicating to legislators the many ways that our cultural industries provide jobs, bring tourists to Louisiana, and prepare our young people to be globally competitive.
FROM: Tommy Usrey, Chairman – Louisiana Partnership for Arts Advocacy
LOUISIANA PARTNERSHIP FOR ARTS ADVOCACY STATEMENT OF POSITION
STATEWIDE ARTS GRANTS
During FY 2009, the Statewide Arts Grant program operated with a budget of $2.4 million in state general funds. Sustaining major arts councils and organizations across Louisiana, these dollars leveraged national support and foundation support much needed by these local groups. The program was subjected to disproportionate budget cuts last year and this year. It is now literally on life support. The executive budget recommends $959,466 for Statewide grants. This represents a staggering 60% cut to a program that generates income and bolsters tourism.
DECENTRALIZED ARTS GRANTS
During FY 2009, the Decentralized Arts Funding program operated with a budget of almost $2.5 million in state general funds. It provides equitable, grass-roots arts funding in all 64 parishes, aiding schools, libraries, non-profits, and local governments. The executive budget now recommends $1 million for decentralized arts grants. This represents an unprecedented 60% cut to a program that every parish depends upon.
Together, the Statewide and Decentralized grant programs benefit 8.5 million locals andvisitors. They also contribute to over 22,000 full-time, part-time, and seasonal jobs across the state, and drastic cuts will have a serious impact on those programs and jobs.
USING TOURISM DOLLARS TO FUND THE ARTS
The executive budget deploys $1.5 million in tourism marketing dollars to fund most arts grants. Marketing dollars must legally be spent on tourism marketing, and we strongly recommend that arts grants be funded through the state general fund. When tourism and arts programs are strong, Louisiana benefits. Marketing brings tourists in, while the arts provide their reason to stay and their reason to come back to Louisiana. This all adds greatly to our state’s bottom line; together, tourism and the arts provide some of Louisiana’s greatest returns on investment.