An opinion from Terry Martin, Producing Artistic Director of WaterTower Theatre:
Today many area arts organizations continue struggling with the decision of whether to cancel or go on with performances during this unusual snowy weather, cancellations that will result in the loss of much needed income; a situation that surely cannot be helped.
However, we must now also acknowledge the very real threat that support from our state arts commission will be eliminated. I understand the Governor of Kansas only this morning signed an executive order to eliminate that state’s arts commission.
While the overall funding from the Texas Commission on the Arts has greatly diminished over the last few years, many might say that the commission is symbolic at best. That symbol is something that I for one don’t think we can do without.
To use WaterTower Theatre as an example; WaterTower is fortunate to have the support of many donors, representing individuals, foundations and corporations. In particular, the Town of Addison as our biggest supporter has afforded us the benefit to rely on a certain level of support every year that gives us the peace of mind that through frugal and fiscally responsible management, our major programming will be able to weather this tough economy. However, programs such as our student matinees, our afterschool programs, our Summer Performance Conservatory, (all for elementary and high school age children), as well as our upcoming Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, receive its major cash funding from the TCA. In fact, try though we may, the TCA is the only organization who has consistently supported these community outreach programs, and without their support, it is very likely that these programs, much like the TCA itself, will have to be eliminated.
Like many arts organizations, our education programs are intended as an effort to supplement in some small way the lack of any real arts programs in our public schools, and selfishly to hopefully turn the few we are able to serve into performing art patrons of the future. The Out of the Loop Fringe Festival was designed to showcase new and up-and-coming local performing arts groups without a home of their own, who desperately are in need of a place to be seen, be reviewed, and through their presence in the festival develop a unique voice and following that can help them expand to a full functioning performing arts group sometime in the future. TCA has been the only consistent support this theatre has received that has truly understood those efforts and has been willing to help us continue these initiatives through cash support.
I know times are tough, but can we really afford not to support the arts, as an individual, as a city, as a state, or as a country? The TCA is an agency of our government that we as citizens of this state should be proud of and proud to support and defend. It should not be the first on the list to be eliminated and thought of as unnecessary and burdensome.
As Winston Churchill is believed to have responded during WWII when his finance minister suggested that Britain cut arts funding to support the war effort:
“Then what are we fighting for?”
Alexandra Bonifield’s criticalrant.com posted this opinion independently as arts advocacy and has received neither endorsement nor monetary consideration from Mr. Martin or WaterTower Theatre for posting.
Contact your congressperson to voice your thoughts. Here are facts which can bolster your argument: www.AmericansForTheArts.org/EconomicImpact
Please contact the Senate Finance Committee members and urge them to side with the TCA when they appear before the committee on Feb 17th. Just remember this is a preliminary budget and there are many many steps to the process before reaching an approved budget. So you can be influential.
Senate Committee on Finance (C540)
Sen. Steve Ogden Steve.Ogden@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Juan Hinojosa Juan.Hinojosa@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Bob Deuell Bob.Deuell@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Robert Duncan Robert.Duncan@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Kevin Eltife Kevin.Eltife@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Craig Estes Craig.Estes@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Eddie Liuco, Jr. Eddie.Liuco@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Jane Nelson Jane.Nelson@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Dan Patrick Dan.Patrick@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Kel Seliger Kel.Seliger@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Florence Shapiro Florence.Shapiro@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Royce West Royce.West@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. John Whitmire John.Whitmire@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Tommy Williams Tommy.Williams@senate.state.tx.us
Sen. Judith Zaffirini Judith.Zaffirini@senate.state.tx.us