Op-Ed piece by DAA Executive Director
The op-ed piece below, written by DAA Executive Director Guillermina Gonzalez, appeared in the September 3rd edition of The News Journal.
The recent opinion essay on the arts is not only pertinent but needed in Delaware. Denise Emery, president of Coastal Concerts Inc., Kay Ryan, chairwoman of Clear Space Theatre, Diana Beebe, president of the Rehoboth Art League Board, and Darrell Grinstead, president of the Rehoboth Beach Film Society board, wrote “Budget cuts will harm arts programs in Delaware.” They encouraged Sussex County residents to reject reductions to the National Endowment for the Arts budget to Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. John Carney.
Prioritizing resources at a federal level is always a challenge but a 49 percent reduction to the NEA’s budget is simply disproportionate.
This reduced level of funding has not been seen since 1974. Before leaving for the August recess, the House Appropriations Committee began consideration of the spending bill that funds the NEA but left with it unfinished. On Aug. 1 the Senate released its draft version of the FY 2014 spending bill which would fund the NEA at the president’s request level of $154 million, a welcome departure from the House.
To put things in perspective, in 1974 when the NEA was funded at $75 million, if adjusted for inflation, that level would be $350 million in today’s dollars. It is clear that the Senate version is not even close to that amount. It is now when arts advocacy at the grassroots level is indeed needed. Let’s make our voices heard in Washington, rejecting additional reduction to the NEA’s funds.
This is also an opportunity for a different call to action, one that asks for individual support to artists and organizations in each county. How? By attending and participating!
The Arts & Economic Prosperity Report makes the business case for the arts in Delaware; with an income of $143 million in economic activity and inclusion among the top 10 employers in the state that is not questionable.
In fact, the arts make a solid business case. Consider that the Delaware Division of the Arts FY ’13 budget is $1.7 million and generates close to $10 million in government revenue. The sector returns to the state almost six times what is invested. The same report also indicates a decline in local attendance in comparison to the previous 2006 Arts & Economic Prosperity Report. The decline in local attendance was balanced out by an increase in visitors from out of the state. The additional income from visitors is always welcome but raises the question of the decline in local arts attendance. Is it because we are unaware of the many options?
A plethora of arts activities can be found at any given time by checking www.delawarescene.com, a beautiful portal constantly updated by the Delaware Division of the Arts. Let’s join forces not only by supporting the arts at federal level as suggested by arts leaders in Sussex County but also by supporting local artists by attending events. In either case, you can indeed make a difference.