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PA Senate Joins Cultural Groups to Protest Cuts to the Arts

June 7, 2011
Karim Olaechea
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance; 215-399-3518

House Budget Drops PA to 46th in Nation in Public Support for Arts

Culture is $2B Industry, Provides 62K Jobs and $280M in Taxes -- Cultural Alliance

“Arts are a job creator and an economic engine for the state.” -- Senator Farnese

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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Senators Larry Farnese, Mike Stack, Shirley Kitchen, Jay Costa, Vincent Hughes, Daylin Leach and Representative Tony Payton joined arts and cultural organizations from across Pennsylvania in Harrisburg today to protest the budget currently before the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Speaking on behalf of the state’s cultural community were Julie Goodman-Hawkins, Executive Vice President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance; Judy Linsz Ross, Director of Marketing at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art; and Robert Welsh, Executive Director of Jump Street of Harrisburg.

“This is very important because arts and culture are a job creator and an economic engine for the state and for the region,” explained Senator Larry Farnese of Philadelphia. “This is an asset that we already have here in Pennsylvania.”

If enacted, HB 1485 will drastically cut the granting budget of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) by 70%, and reduce or eliminate funding to major cultural institutions, arts and music education programs, community development projects and to arts and cultural programs across the state.

“There couldn’t be a more wrong headed thing to do than to cut arts and culture. If you invest in arts and culture, you’ll be investing in our future”, said Senator Mike Stack.

“Do we realize what an impact [the arts] has on the lives of children and youth, especially children who do not have access to such things as the art museum, to the ballet, to art, to music” explained Senator Shirley Kitchen, a mother of five. “Arts groups come into communities, they travel around the state to give children exposure to different kinds of learning, to help them grow into the kind of person that we want to see, so they can find their place in the world.”

The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is community focused arts granting agency which helps stimulate Pennsylvania’s creative economy through several key programs. The budget passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives reduces the state’s investment in the arts from just under $8.5 to $2.5 million and lowers Pennsylvania from 28th to 46th in the nation in per capita funding of the Arts.

The PCA supports a nonprofit cultural sector that generates almost $2 billion in economic impact across the state, including support for over 62,000 direct and indirect full-time equivalent jobs. Spending by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and their audiences generates nearly $130 million in tax revenues for local governments and over $150 million in state taxes.

About the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts

  • 1322 grants awarded in FY 10-11
  • 596 Arts Organizations were supported by PCA grants
  • 726 Arts Projects were supported by PCA grants
  • PCA funded programs in all 67 counties

The PCA’s primary goal is to “support Pennsylvania’s creative industry in providing cultural services to the people of the Commonwealth,” and its programs have profound impacts on our economy, our communities and the lives of individuals throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Through its Arts Organizations & Arts Programs (AOAP) granting program, the PCA funds organizations such as the Brandywine Conservancy, the Allentown Art Museum, Perry County Council of the Arts and the York Jewish Community Center, and events such as the Mayfair festival, Endless Mountain Music Festival and Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. This funding directly supports thousands of jobs throughout the Commonwealth and thousands more by encouraging cultural tourism. These cuts would hurt the many small business owners who depend on the tourism dollars generated by PCA funded events and cultural attractions.

Another of its granting programs, the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts Program (PPA), provides community based statewide grants and supports local arts and cultural programs and projects in every county of the Commonwealth. In the decade from 2001-2010, the PPA program provided more than $4 million to southeastern Pennsylvania to fund programs including art and music classes for school students, art therapy classes that help seniors fight the onset of Alzheimer's, and outreach programs that rehabilitate and give troubled youth a second chance. Southeast Pennsylvania programs and organizations receiving PPA grants in 2010, included:

  • Youth Orchestra of Bucks County’s Master Class Series - a music educational project that provided direct instruction to music students in grades 3-12.
  • - an educational music program that brings together three musicians from different backgrounds with traditionally underserved students from the Freire Charter School at WXPN’s World Café Live in Philadelphia.
  • University City Arts League - pottery lessons as part of an after-school program where West Philadelphia students learn new skills, develop creativity, gain confidence and create unique pieces of art.
  • Kennett Area Senior Center’s Living History Storytelling Project - an acting therapy program that helps seniors revive their memories, strengthen mental and physical abilities, and develop coping skills through acting exercises.
  • Oasis Arts - classes and workshops to adults and children in who are marginalized as a result of mental illness and/or retardation.
  • Music For All Seasons, Inc. - a series of professional, therapeutic, and interactive musical programs for children living in Philadelphia domestic violence shelters.
  • Art for Justice’s Road Map for Life Workshop - an arts program that also provides life skills training for twelve high risk youth in Montgomery County.

Budget Context
Over the past two fiscal years, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, has seen a 46% decrease in its grants to the arts line item. This line enables the PCA to broaden the availability of the arts to residents across the state through a combination of several granting programs to individual artists and arts organizations.

PCA FY 2008-9 FY 2009-10 FY 2010-11 Corbett
Proposed FY 2011-12
General Assembly
Proposed FY 2011-12
Council on the Arts (Operating) $1,255,000 $982,000 $895,000 $895,000 $500,000
Council on the Arts

$14,578,000 $9,500,000 $8,422,000 $8,262,000 $2,500,000

At its peak, the PCA’s grants to the arts were funded in FY 2007-08 at $15.225 million. In FY 2008-09, this number was reduced by 4.25% due to the economic downturn. In FY 2009-10, this number shrank to $9.5 million and in FY 2010-11, grants to the arts stood at $8.422 million. Those decreases led to the elimination of one of the PCA’s most sought after funding streams, its individual artist fellowships.

The proposed budget currently before the General Assembly includes a $2.5 million appropriation for PCA’s grants to the arts. This represents a cut of 70% over last year’s budget, effectively taking the PCA back to its FY 1979-1980* funding level. (*This number has not been adjusted for inflation.)

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance is working with Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania, the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and its partners across the state in an advocacy campaign to encourage voters to contact their local legislators and to ask them to restore funding to the levels proposed by Governor Corbett in his March 8th budget address. Debate on this proposed budget will begin in earnest on May 23rd.

About Us
The Cultural Alliance’s mission is to make Greater Philadelphia one of the foremost creative regions in the world. The Cultural Alliance believes that Greater Philadelphia grows stronger and more vibrant by growing its arts and culture. The Alliance’s work promotes that mission through initiatives that leverage arts and culture to inspire individuals and build community and civic engagement. These efforts include connecting cultural resources to community needs; providing direct services for nonprofit cultural organizations; leading cultural research, advocacy and policy work; and producing direct marketing programs for cultural consumers.

The Cultural Alliance’s work reflects these key principles: Arts and culture is an engine for economic growth. It has the power to elevate lives. It has the power to educate. We own it, as residents of the Greater Philadelphia region, because it comes from us. It helps individuals come together and grow as a community.

More Quotes
“Exposure to the arts in children plays a major dividend to the quality of life, how they view themselves, and, quite frankly, how they do on things like the SATs.” explained Senator Jay Costa.

“We have found the money to fund [the arts] at the appropriate level, which is the level that the Governor proposed. By June 30th there will a $600 million dollar budget surplus.” explained Senator Vincent Hughes, “The money is there.”

“Some people just don’t get it. They don’t get the importance of the arts for our community.” Senator Daylin Leach said, “In my own district Theater Horizon and other arts groups are coming to Norristown and are literally changing that city.”

“If we want Pennsylvania to become a destination state, then we’ve got to invest more in the arts not pull back from our investment in the arts.” said Senator Daylin Leach.

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