The upcoming Iowa Arts Festival in Iowa City reminds me that during the Great Depression, artists were brought together to produce some of the greatest art of this or any century through the Works Projects Administration (WPA). Grant Woods' murals in the Iowa State University Parks Library stands magnificently, as do Edgar Britton's in Waterloo's public library. As I learn more of schools and universities cutting back on arts programs or facilities, I question if people really understand the value of the arts to a society?
In Iowa, legislation that was passed in the last session allocated the Department of Cultural Affairs a total budget that is a 9.46% decrease from the FY09 budget.
Iowa Arts Council Budget: The FY10 appropriation reduces by 9.79% the FY09 budget as appropriated last July 1. This appropriation provides the primary funding for Iowa Arts Councils grant programs, workshops and conferences, rosters, administrative costs, and technical assistance for the arts in Iowa.
Cultural Grants Program: The FY10 Cultural Grants appropriation was cut by 6.7% from the FY09 appropriation. This appropriation supports a portion of both the Iowa Community Cultural Grant program and the Cultural Leadership Partners program.
Gaming Funds: The gaming funds allocated to DCA for operating support to cultural organizations were cut by 12.9% for FY10. These gaming funds support our Cultural Leadership Partners, the Iowa Community Cultural Grants, and Small Operating Support grants.
Cultural Trust: The annual allocated deposit to the Iowa Cultural Trust took a slight cut, with a reduction from $1 million to $900,000 for FY10. The Cultural Trust board will meet in May to determine how to move ahead with grant-making from the Trust.
As for my fair city, whether the city's public art program would be eliminated at a savings of $18,208 also on the block. Council members said they would like to maintain some kind of city support for public art, but perhaps not in its current form.
It is true that the arts are not food for the hungry or homes for the homeless, but neither are they tax cuts for the wealthy. The arts do feed the soul and give a home to those creative souls that are made to write, sing, dance, paint, sculpt, act, and on and on. We would live on a subdued pallet of color were there not artists.
As it stands, there are many more "artistic" people than their are artistic jobs. The arts professiona are one of few that truly rely on a patronage system--unfortunately sometimes that system is more patronizing than supporting. When given the choice between a future Rembrandt or captain of industry, can't we make room for both?