By Ed Southern, Executive Director,Â NCWN
Our friends at ARTS North Carolina have issued this Call to Action:
The NC House of Representatives have approved their budget for the 2019-2021 Biennium and sent it to theÂ Senate for consideration. As the Senate works through their budget, we want you to be aware of arts related funding and policy that was included in the House Budget, particularly the funding for equitable and accountable grants through the NC Arts Council, so that you can have informed conversations.Â Please call or emailÂ your SenatorÂ this week.
- Grassroots Grants Programs: There is an additionalÂ $1,000,000 in nonrecurring fundingÂ for the NC Arts Council Grassroots Arts Grant program for FY2020, however it is not included in FY2021. It also, contains language that prohibits those dollars from being distributed to ten Tier 3 counties with populations over 100,000.Â PleaseÂ call or email your Senator and tell them you support this allocation and would like to see this funding becomeÂ recurring without language that restricts itÂ from being distributed to all 100 counties.
- General Grants: There is no additional funding for NC Arts Councilâ€™s General Grants which includes the State Arts Resources Operational and Rural Touring grants, Veterans Arts, SmART Initiative, Education and Program Support grants, and much more.Â Please encourage the Senate to include at least $500,000 in increased funding for these vital General Grants programs.
- Arts High School Graduation Requirement: The language fromÂ H56 and S238, which both establish a requirement of one arts credit between 6th and 12th grade for high school graduation, is included in the House Budget and Arts NC is encouraging the Senate to allow that provision to remain to insure all North Carolina students have access to arts education.
To be honest, what matters most to the Network is the second bullet point, General Grants.
The North Carolina Writersâ€™ Network receives an annual Statewide Services Organization grant from the North Carolina Arts Council. Since 2010, and through no fault of our own, weâ€™ve seen this grant amount decline by one-third.
We try hard to keep the Network as affordable and accessible as we can, and to compensate our instructors fairly. Weâ€™ve been fortunate to have loyal members, generous donors, and outstanding writers who appreciate the Networkâ€™s role in our literary community.
A return to traditional levels of state funding, though, would help us keep member dues and registration rates low, pay our instructors and critiquers better, and provide more services and accessibility. If the state government would support the arts as it once did, it would relieve some of the pressure of fundraising, and let us concentrate more on serving North Carolina writers and writing.
Please take a few minutes to call or write your state senators, using this link to identify and contact them.
Remind them how vital the artsâ€”including the literary artsâ€”have been to North Carolinaâ€™s development: economically, educationally, culturally.
Remind them that North Carolina has been known as a good place to do business in large part because itâ€™s been a great place to make art, to write and to read.
Remind them that North Carolina is, and always should be, the Writingest State.