September 28, 2011

These Cuts Won't Heal

Every day, we read about cuts to arts funding in communities all across the United States. Given the global nature of our own economic woes, it's not surprising that very similar events continue to unfold across Europe.

In the United Kingdom, one arts columnist maintains a blog on The Guardian that documents the effects of funding cuts to the arts. Culture Cuts by Mark Brown highlights the impact of cuts to local and regional arts organizations and/or projects as well as to the Arts Council, the UK's version of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Also in the UK, eight unions including the Writers Guild of Great Britain, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), UNITE, Prospect and PCS) have created a website, Lost Arts. It's a three-year project designed to demonstrate the projects events, initiatives, performances and organizations that will be lost to the UK until the next review in 2015. A totaliser on the site registers the loss of funding (currently more than £20 million) as well as the subsequent lost economic impact of those pounds (currently  more than £41 million).

Just like in the UK, public funding for the arts in Oklahoma works hard to deliver real returns for the state not only "in economic terms but in the kind of society we want to be."

Brown's Culture Cuts blog demonstrates that never before has advocacy been more important to the arts than it is right now. The world has changed more since the economic crash of September 2008 than anytime since World War II. It will only be through highly focused and deliberate campaigning that support of the arts in Oklahoma increases instead of decreases.

The above placard was carried during a demonstration against cuts to arts funding at the Trade Unions Conference in the UK, March 2011. If you could write a placard in support of public funding for the arts what would it say?