Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blago thinks arts & language are unimportant

I knew the man was a twit, but this just takes the cake. I just received an e-mail from our small-town art center's head of operations, letting us know that the blow-dried one is planning to cut 35% of an already tight arts program budget -- plus, Blago's of the opinion that we don't need to fund a grant for Arts and Foreign Language studies. The contents of the message are as follows:

Dear Friend in the Arts,

We must act now to send a powerful message to Governor Rod Blagojevich, Senate President Emil Jones, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and other state lawmakers that the arts are not pork!

The Governor’s FY08 spending plan calls for a dramatic 35% cut (over $7 million) to the Illinois Arts Council (IAC) budget. This decrease in funding will undoubtedly have a devastating impact to the arts statewide and significantly reduce the funds available for IAC grant programs. Furthermore, the Governor completely eliminated the Arts and Foreign Language grant program through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

This dangerous decision will have very negative implications for all the people of Illinois. Support from the Illinois Arts Council is crucial to the success of artists, arts organizations, and entities providing arts programming throughout the state. Strategic investments made by the Illinois Arts Council to community theaters, dance studios, schools, local festivals, libraries, museums, and park districts enhance our overall quality of life and have a significant impact on the economic health and vitality of the state - creating jobs, boosting tourism, and revitalizing downtowns.

The budget approved by the legislature on August 10, 2007 would have increased the Illinois Arts Council's budget by $3.6 million from last year’s budget level and brought us very close to our goal: a budget of $24 million for the Illinois Arts Council, or $2 per person, per year in Illinois. The budget also would have increased the Arts and Foreign Language grant program at ISBE to over $6 million in FY08 to assist school districts in providing valuable arts and foreign language programming.

The Illinois Arts Alliance is moving forward with an aggressive campaign to restore full funding for the Illinois Arts Council and arts and foreign language education funding at the Illinois State Board of Education. We NEED your help now more than ever before!

Please tell Governor Blagojevich, senate and house leadership, and your state lawmakers TODAY how essential the arts are to you and your community. We have made it extremely easy for you to effectively advocate for the arts. Here is what we are asking you to do:

1) Write two letters to lawmakers using the talking points provided in the links below
a. One requesting that funding for the Illinois Arts Council be restored to $23.2 million as proposed by the General Assembly on August 10, 2007
Click Here:
b. The other urging lawmakers to restore funding to the Arts and Foreign Language grant program through the Illinois State Board of Education. Click Here:

Make two phone calls to the numbers listed below expressing your concern with the proposed budget cuts to the arts and urging that funding be fully restored for the Illinois Arts Council and the Illinois State Board of Education’s Arts and Foreign Language grant program.
a) Ginger Ostro
Budget Director for Governors Office of Management and Budget

Governor Rod Blagojevich
312-814-2121 (Chicago) OR 217-558-0880 (Springfield)

While the road ahead is rocky, together we can restore full funding for the arts in Illinois! Should you have any questions or concerns please contact me at 312-855-3105 ext 14 or email

Ra Joy
Executive Director
Illinois Arts Alliance
To be honest, I can't read the original docs well enough to figure out whether the cut is to the proposed budget (to eliminate the increase, that is), or if the cut is to the old budget before the approved increase. Either way, Blago has his little pet projects which will get funded, but everything else in this state seems to be, in his opinion, flat-out waste to be eliminated.

Look, we've already seen the feds cut arts, leaving in the responsibility of state and local offices. The only way some of the smaller communities can even pretend to demonstrate an interest in something more than simple survival is if somebody gives us a hand-up. Small-town colleges have seen their budgets rearranged (often very stupidly, I'll grant) to the point where they can no longer support town/gown cooperation on anything, let alone arts. Without state funding, little towns like Monmouth, and even mid-sized ones like Galesburg, Kewanee, Pekin and such are likely to suffer, intellectually and artistically.

If Blago is going to cut funding for this, he'd damn well better cut funding for every other bit of cultural spending the state does. I don't want to hear that, this year, some community theatre in Chicago or Springfield gets a facelift at the taxpayers' expense, or that the State Fair Grounds got an extra coat of paint, or even that Rod's office was equipped with a new, more attractive and comfortable chair.

The arts are part of NCLB, Blowdriedevich, babe. Fund 'em or we all lose even more federal bucks. And you don't want to know what that will do to your political future. You're Rod, not God.

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