In one of the many enewsletters I get came this disturbing piece of news for anyone who cares about the arts community: The House Appropriations and Finance Committee will meet Wednesday, January 28 at 1:30 p.m. to vote on the budget proposals submitted by the State of New Mexico's Legislative Finance Committee and the Executive Branch. The LFC recommends reducing New Mexico Arts
budget by $400,000 and the Executive Branch by $100,000. This would represent a 45-50% reduction to organizations receiving funding through New Mexico Arts grant budget. Overall, state agencies are facing a 10% reduction in budget while New Mexico Arts is facing a considerably steeper reduction. To see a 10-year history of New Mexico Arts funding, click here
and look to the right column or check this post
Everyone knows that it's tough to be a legislator this year, and that hard choices need to be made. But penalizing a program that has been chronically underfunded in the past, and upon which so many worthy arts groups rely to keep the doors open is like flogging a dead horse.
What does that mean for Albuquerque arts groups? Many Albuquerque arts groups receive money from NM Arts and could be negatively effected if the budget cut were enacted. In FY 2009, 45 Bernalillo County groups, including Tricklock, the NM Arts & Crafts Fair, Keshet, National Institute of Flamenco, KNME-TV, NM Symphony Orchestra, VSA Arts, and Working Classroom received funding. Groups received as little as $1,200 to as much as $8,800.(Unfortunately, the list is not available online.)
I'll be emailing my state representative to express my displeasure, and hope you will, too. Find yours here
At the same time as this potentially devestating budget cut is being proposed to NM Arts, the Economic & Rural Development Committee has endorsed and submitted SB24
which calls for a $900,000 increase in New Mexico Arts grant budget. I'll be contacting my legislator to request her support of the bill. Thanks to the advocacy of the New Mexico Community Arts Network and the Arts Alliance
for seeing this bill submitted.
If you care at all about the arts, please make your voice heard!
UPDATE from Kevin Hagen, President of the Arts Alliance:
The House Appropriations and Finance Committee voted on Jan. 28 to table a recommendation from the Legislative Finance Committee for a cut of $408,000 in grant funds for New Mexico Arts. And on Jan. 29, the Senate Indian and Cultural Affairs Committee gave a unanimous "do pass" recommendation to Senate Bill 24, which would increase grant funding for New Mexico Arts by $900,000. The Arts Alliance, working with New Mexico Arts and others, helped to organize testimony and supportive attendance at both meetings.
Bravo and thanks to all those who made phone calls and wrote e-mails to House members. Almost every committee member who spoke made reference to the very high volume of calls they had gotten on this issue. Your calls make a huge difference, and the number of calls stand in sharp contrast with many other issues before the Legislature.
Next steps include further discussions and negotiations on where we will wind up between the two positions -- a $408,000 cut and a $900,000 increase.