Arts Funding in Fulton County has been in a steady decline. Over the past five years the Department of Arts and Culture funding has been cut an average of 14-20% annually, and since 2001 the cut to funding has been over one million dollars. While these were difficult cuts, they were in line with unilateral cuts across County departments. Our current scenario is diferent and much more dire. The County Manager has recommended a TOTAL ELIMINATION OF ARTS FUNDING FROM THE BUDGET. The Department of Arts and Culture would cease to exist, Arts Centers in Fulton County communities would be closed, Contracts for Services funding to arts organizations in the County would be eliminated as well as all other programs that support the work of artists and culturalists in our community.
I am a realist and understand that in order to balance the budget, cuts have to be made. The Commissioners have a difficult job, no doubt. However the EXTREME position of totally ELIMINATING funding doesn’t serve anyone very well. The idea that the County Manager sees arts and culture and libraries as “expendable” cuts is the first issue. But that aside for the moment, the County Manager’s proposed cuts include the very elements a community needs to develop, innovate and thrive. Participation in art and culture allows us to explore and embrace our humanity more than anything else. You can call it idealism if you wish, but I call it keeping it real. In dollars and cents I mean that pulling arts and culture out of a community might balance the budget in the short term but it depletes the quality of life in the long term. What kind of communities are we developing for the future? Failing education systems, crumbling infrastructures and increased crime has no balance when you remove the balance and the remedy. We actually need some of the creative solutions that artists offer to help figure this out, but that’s another blog.
Today, it’s time to mount up in opposition to this short sighted proposal and to let our voices be heard about the kind of communities we want to live in. My Fulton County Arts Council colleagues need your help and recommend the following steps.
1. Contact Your Commissioner! The Commissioners are politicians who like to be politicians. When their constituency calls or sends emails, they listen because if they don’t, they might lose that politician gig. Get their attention over the next few days and let them know that you want them to support Arts and Culture in Fulton County. Voting any other way is unacceptable!
District 1 (At-Large) Chairman John Eaves, 404-612-8206, firstname.lastname@example.org
District 2 (At-Large) Commissioner Robb Pitts, 404-612-8210, email@example.com
District 3 Commissioner Liz Hausmann, 404-612-8213, firstname.lastname@example.org
District 4 Commissioner Tom Lowe, 404-612-8218, email@example.com
District 5 Commissioner Emma Darnell, 404-612-8222, firstname.lastname@example.org
District 6 Commissioner Joan Garner, 404-612-8226, email@example.com
District 7 Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards, 404-612-8230, firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Join Us at Wednesday’s Board of Commissioner’s (BOC) Meeting! This is the only opportunity for you to publicly address the commissioners on this issue. The meeting will be held on August 21 at 10 AM in the Assembly Hall at 141 Pryor Street. The recommendations will be presented to the Board formally at this meeting for consideration. We are encouraging everyone to wear green so our presence can be recognized.
This effort will hopefully help us maintain more of our annual Arts and Culture funding than not, but as a creative community we have to start innovating and figuring out new ways to fund the arts in Fulton County and Atlanta. Let me know how you are supporting this effort so we know how effective we are being in getting the word out. Thank you for your action on this matter. It matters!
Leatrice Ellzy, Fulton County Arts Council Member (District 2)