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Artists Up in Arms

Friday, March 27, 2009 - 5:19pm

Artists are up in arms tonight after news that Governor Jindal’s budget includes an 83% cut in arts funding. Agencies across the state are being cut, but folks in the arts community say an 83% cut is a terrible move. They say statewide, people will lose jobs and businesses will suffer.

Artists and art supporters from across the state are writing their legislators, telling them to put the brakes on Bobby Jindal’s budget and an 83% cut in arts funding. Derek Gordon of Arts Council of Greater BR says, “It’s going to effect tourism. Tourists are not going to come because there are not the types of things they are going to do.”

The specific funding cuts proposed are concentrated in the Decentralized Arts Funding Program. The program funds agencies that put on performance, art camps for kids, and art in education programs. “If you take your family to see the “Nutcracker,” the “Nutcracker” may not happen this year.”

The arts community was prepared for cuts given the current economic situation, “But we don’t think an 83% cut is reasonable.” The cuts will impact programs and people will lose their jobs. Laura Larkin administers grants in the 11 parishes surrounding Baton Rouge. Her job will be eliminated and the funds she doles out to other agencies simply won’t be there anymore. Larkin says, “And I’m worried not for just myself, but for all the artists and arts organizations that we serve.”

Just this week, the Baton Rouge Arts Council hosted two sold out concerts. “I can guarantee you when we have two sold out shows, the restaurants in downtown are doing a tremendous amount of business.” Folks in the arts community say for every dollar invested in the arts, s$6 goes back to the state. “Economic impact studies have shown this and with this program cut, we estimate the tax loss for the state is going to be $14 million.”

Artists and people who support the arts have started writing their legislators and they’re asking them not to approve Governor Jindal’s budget.

If you’d like more specifics on this program and the cuts click here.