Arts Funding Hearing

Thursday, April 23, 2009 - 5:58pm

Art supporters headed to the Capitol today. As David D’Aquin reports, they pleaded with lawmakers to reinstate arts funding. Just weeks ago arts supporters held a jazz funeral for the arts. Now, they’re pleading with lawmakers asking them to reinstate funding for the Decentralized Arts Funding program.

Gerd Wustemann, Director of the Acadiana Center for the Arts, says in the Lafayette area alone the grants help thousands. “1,100 activities, employing more than 770 artists involving more than 20,000 community members in those activities and producing shows and artwork that was seen by over 150,000 citizens.” Arts supporters say cutting arts funding will cost the state big time as the state will lose out on tax revenue. Christy Weeks with Jackson Parish Museum says, “We have to not only look at where money is coming from, but where we get the most bang for the buck.”

They say it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen if the proposed cuts take effect. They say they can’t imagine Louisiana without art, “If you try to have a crawfish boil and don’t have music, you might as well not have beer and call it a day, really, that’s about it.”

Arts supporters say the Governor should continue putting money into the arts because the state, in turn, gets a return on that money. “It’s perhaps wiser and less controversial than investing in chicken plants and we come much cheaper. I’d be happy with 10% of what just went to north Louisiana and be just fine with that.”

Lawmakers encouraged everyone asking for money to look at other funding sources and to look for waste in other state agencies. Members of the panel say they’re not opposed to shifting funds from one place to another. Lawmakers have been trying to hammer out budget details before the session begins Monday. We’ll keep you posted on any new developments.