Our executive director sent the following letter to Governor Ducey in response to the defunding of Arizona Commission on the Arts and in support of Arizona Citizens for the Arts’ request to allocate money from the State’s CARES Act funding.
RE: Emergency Arts & Culture Relief Fund
Dear Governor Ducey,
Thank you for including arts in your original Executive Budget. I am genuinely excited about your forward-thinking leadership and commitment to this state. These are incredibly challenging times. Creative thinking will enrich our economy and our sense of resolve.
Statewide funding of the arts provides not only critical financial support, but it also demonstrates an important social contract. Artists and other creative professionals’ value this state deeply and want to see it thrive. We need to employ our problem solvers and our cheerleaders.
As an architect that also has an MBA and a master’s in information systems, I was a bit of an unconventional hire for the job I now hold. I love economic systems, the passion of entrepreneurs (which includes artists), and the creativity and natural beauty that imbues our sense of place and pride. In Flagstaff, we value science and art equally.
Flagstaff Arts Council is supportive of Arizona Citizens for the Arts’ request to allocate $2 million in federal relief to Arizona Commission on the Arts. Our mayor and many others submitted statements of support. The following is my perspective.
- Based on a quick Google analysis, the state budget represents ~4% of GDP. The most recent AZeconomy.org data cites state GDP at $278 billion. Although GDP is dramatically affected by the crisis, the crisis is disproportionately affecting arts and culture businesses. Arts and culture support $9 billion of the economy. A sector representing over 3% of our economy is worthy of more than 0.1% of federally supported state stimulus, let alone the 0% currently allocated. Based on how our organization is affected, I am certain that 100% of federal funding that you direct to arts organizations will go to the employment of Arizonans.
- The arts historically recover more slowly from economic recession. This suggests even more needs to be invested than in normal times. $2 million, as requested by AZCA, is a great start. $4 million would provide additional investment in nonprofits and artists at a time when few other options exist. That is just 0.2% of the federal allocation.
- As I write this letter, I am also writing a budget that further reduces our payroll by 10% due to the anticipated Arizona Commission on the Arts cuts. As stewards and advocates for the $90 million arts and culture economy in greater Flagstaff, our work has never been more important. By July, we anticipate losing 30% of our payroll, cutting technical support, professional development, collaborative fundraising, marketing, and public events programs. Our small share of this request has the power to help 40 nonprofit art and culture organizations adapt and thrive.
- Frequently, art is thought of as a pretentious and inaccessible thing. It is not. The Arizona Commission on the Arts has done incredible work to focus the State’s investment in ways that inspire long-term educational attainment and broad and equitable enrichment. The citizens of Arizona deserve State investment and buy-in of the entrepreneurship and the economy we call “arts.”
Flagstaff rallies as a creative community. Arts and culture is not just a way of life but a driving force in the economy of Arizona and Northern Arizona. Thank you for considering my perspective.