Turning the Tide

"The United States of Consumerism" by Amy Guidry; acrylic on canvas; 30"w x 24"h; Private Collection; (c) Amy Guidry 2012

First, I should apologize for my absence last week.  I have lots going on and much to share, which I will be doing over the week so be on the lookout.  As some of you may know, last week the arts community of Louisiana received some sad news- legislators approved a 1/3 cut in Decentralized Arts Funding (DAF) and Statewide Art Grants (SAG).  This affects an estimated 148,000 jobs, Louisiana’s tourism industry, as well as artists, teachers, museums, libraries, theaters, art centers, festivals, among others.  The news is grim, especially given the fact the Arts tend to be the first that are cut and already do not receive enough funding.  I personally know of small museums and art centers that have been struggling to get any kind of funding and risk closing.

So what can we do?

The most obvious answer deals with how we vote and voicing our opinion to local and national politicians.  Thanks to the internet and groups such as Louisiana Citizens for the Arts, you can stay up to date on these issues and contact the appropriate individuals with the click of a button.  And don’t worry about writing the most profound letter, either.  My thoughts are as long as you are writing something, even if it’s just to send the form letter already provided, it will make a difference.  All correspondence adds up.

That being said, politicians need to see numbers.  Letters and phone calls are great, but it also boils down to whether the public is willing to put their money where their mouth is.  You say you love art, but do you really?  They need to see the numbers.  Numbers being the tourism dollars, the tax revenue, the number of people attending arts events, and so on.  If you want to prove that these artists and organizations matter, as well as support them along the way, you need to do the following:

Buy art— Seriously.  This is not some propaganda I’m passing along because I’m an artist.  If you buy art you’ll support artists, galleries, museums, and art centers so they can continue to thrive in your community rather than closing down or moving somewhere else where they appreciate art.  In turn, those sales taxes and income taxes from art speak highly in the eyes of the government.  Funding goes to those that make money and are a good investment.

Attend events— Support your local arts community by attending performances, exhibit openings, lectures, and so forth.  You’ll have an entertaining evening and know you’re making a difference in the process.  Even if it’s a free event, you’re still helping because those numbers matter.

Sign the guestbook— So many people attend an event and pass by the guestbook without signing.  Maybe you don’t think it’s important or you are weary to share your information.  Whatever the case may be, you need to sign the guestbook.  Those names translate to numbers.  Museums and art centers report those numbers in order to prove their importance and receive funding.  No one wants to support a museum if they have no visitors.  So sign your name- you don’t have to give any other information unless you want to- as long as there is a name, it adds to the numbers.

Become a member— Aside from government funding, these organizations receive funds from, well, you!  Paying for an event is great, but if you really want to help, become a member.  You can join any or all, and there are various levels for joining most groups.  Many museums and art centers offer general membership at reasonable rates, some offer rates for students and seniors, so check their websites.

How do you support the Arts?  Feel free to add ideas in the comments section.

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