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House General Government Committee Debating Budget – Action Needed

Representative Tom Tillis (Rep, 98) is the Speaker of the NC House

Representative Tom Tillis (Rep, 98) is the Speaker of the NC House

In the proposed state budget released Monday, May 20, the North Carolina Arts Council saw their operating budget slashed by a disproportionate amount in relation to other programs in the NC Department of Cultural Resources. The state’s proposed budget doubled the cuts recommended by Governor Pat McCrory. Such a drastic reduction to the NCAC’s operating budget would have detrimental and in some cases fatal results for many arts organizations throughout our state.

We asked for your help, and your responded.

And it’s time again: time to pick up your phone, write another letter, and type another e-mail. The House General Government Committee, which recommends funding for the North Carolina Arts Council, began deliberating the budget on Tuesday. The House budget is expected within two weeks. Now is the time to prevent the debilitating cuts recommended by the Senate by contacting your House Representative.

Please contact your representative no later than Tuesday, June 3.

How? Call your legistlator at home this weekend. Call their office. Write a letter (postmarked by May 30!). Send an e-mail.

Not sure who your representative is? Click here. Not sure how to contact them? Click here.

What should you say?

Please sustain 2012-2013 grants and administrative funding to the North Carolina Arts Council of $7,413,423.  This amount represents a 27% reduction since 2008. If the Senate budget which calls for further reductions were accepted, the North Carolina Arts Council would sustain 37% cuts resulting in disproportionate and devastating impact on programs and services in all 100 counties of North Carolina.

See additional talking points here.

Click here for a sample letter. Click here for a sample e-mail.

ARTS North Carolina, the advocacy group for the arts in our state, released the following “things we have learned.” Let’s all keep this list in mind as we respond to this call to action.

  1. Be careful of aggressive tone and tenure, particularly with phone calls. Stay on this side of passion and do not cross over into anger nor take out frustrations on Legislative Assistants.
  2. We are hearing from several Legislators that the House budget is going to be more closely aligned with the Governor’s budget. The Governor’s budget recommended a 6% decrease in grant funds and no cuts in administration. The Senate more than doubled the total recommended cuts.
  3. If a Legislator asks you “what can you live with?” say, “We are asking for 2012-2013 level funding as we have already been cut 27% since 2008. However, at the very least please take the Governor’s recommendation of no more than 6% cuts to grants programs.”
  4. One Legislator suggested that advocates be very specific on the effect of further cuts on their community’s programs and services. One advocate said if Grassroots Arts funding were cut anymore, they would likely lose their Arts In the Schools programs.
  5. One Legislator had the misconception that grants are given out to anyone who asks. The advocate had the opportunity to talk about the rigorous criteria of the North Carolina Arts Council’s grants process. In the same conversation with this conservative budget hawk, the advocate was able to connect with the concept of “public good”. The point is, you don’t know the Legislator’s issues until you talk to them.
  6. You can emphasize that the North Carolina Arts Council is much more than a granting agency. The staff “drives big ideas” such as the Smart Initiative. Highlight Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker’s position that tourism, arts, and culture are one of the five pillars of North Carolina’s economic development plan because she just presented her plan to Legislators this week. Connect the dots. The North Carolina Arts Council is the implementer of Commerce’s Plan.

Also, if you receive any communication other than an obvious “form” communication, please let Arts North Carolina know asap at advocacy@artsnc.org.

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