If you tear it down, will they still come?
Arts DEVOté admits that he doesn’t pay much attention to news of local politics, and he actually closes his eyes and falls to the ground and into a deep coma when the news involves finances. But he recently received an e-mail from Friends of the Arts’ Debra Lucero addressing recent Chico Finance Committee discussions about cutting arts funding by 30 percent, and dammit, when belts begin to tighten around the frail necks of Chico’s (barely) publicly funded artists and nonprofit arts-making organizations, well … then … A.D. is going type a few paragraphs … yeah! Take that, fund cutters!
In all seriousness, if you are a Chicoan who is dancing, painting, acting or rocking, or if you are a Chicoan who likes when others do these things in your city, and you don’t think the city should cut back on its funding to the art makers, you should head over to the Chico City Council meeting Tues., Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m. and let the City Council know you care.
“The library folks did that and it did have huge impact,” said Councilman Scott Gruendl, who also sits on the Finance Committee. Gruendl said the city manager’s recommendation for cuts includes all community organizations, not just the arts, and that he had received stacks of influential letters and postcards from county library supporters seeking to keep the Chico branch’s funding intact.
Given the need to balance the budget, Gruendl said, “everybody does need to feel some pain,” but he doubts the arts cuts will be as high as the projected 30 percent.
As of the 2007-08 budget, the council had agreed to a capped allotment for the arts of roughly $140,000 to provide some stability and protection, and such a quick change in direction is jarring, especially in light of recent efforts, and success, of investing in cultural tourism, namely with the fall Artoberfest celebration.
“The track record has been continued growth in the arts,” said Arts Commissioner Paul Friedlander, adding: “The arts organizations are so efficient—it seems to be penny wise and pound foolish. Funding for the arts is extraordinarily inexpensive for what it gives back.”
Gruendl agreed, pointing to the fact that an argument could be made—and continues being made very succinctly and passionately by Lucero—that the arts of our community attract tourists who put money into the Transit Occupancy Tax coffers that in turn fund the arts. “Aren’t they generating their own reserve?” asked Gruendl.
A.D. says, yes they are. Now, go remind them.
Bi-weekly devotions (Help Wanted edition):
• Chico Cabaret Board of Directors: The happy crew at the Chico Cabaret has two open positions on its board. Interested applicants are asked to send an e-mail “that conveys your attributes that would best serve the Cabaret and [its] audiences” to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Chico Arts Commission: With Kathy Barrett moving over to the Planning Commission, a seat on the Arts Commission has opened up. Since it will be a mid-term replacement, the commitment is for only one year. If you’re interested and are a voting Chico citizen, pick up an application at the City Clerk’s office (411 Main St.) or visit www.ci.chico.ca.us. Deadline is Dec. 19. Info: (530) 896-7250.