Saturday, April 16, 2011

ARTS DAY 2011... Do you want the good news first?

Council for the Arts representatives:
Brenda Johnson, Stephen Greer,
Connie Wenner, Bernie Rosage Jr.,
and Doug Parker.

I attended Arts Day 2011 last Tuesday in Raleigh, NC. I attended with fellow members of the board of the Council for the Arts as representatives from Onslow County. The event is organized and lead by ARTS North Carolina, a statewide advocacy organization for the arts. ARTS NC calls for equity and access for the arts for all North Carolinians, unifies and connects North Carolina's arts communities, and fosters arts leadership. The day is filled with key note speakers, arts advocacy materials and training, plus speaking with government officials to exemplify the importance of the arts on our economy, education, and well being. The event is a yearly Legislative event that organizes and facilitates Grassroots Advocacy... the main source of arts funding for Onslow (and most NC counties) County.

Karen Wells
Executive Director of ARTS NC

Most people have the misconception that government funding of arts means their hard-earned tax dollars are going straight to some hippie busker playing an acoustic guitar on the street corner, or an artist whose goal is to shock the world with crayon masterpieces, or the photographer whose wants to stretch the boundaries of censorship but the truth of the matter is that art is a investment.  Like most investments, there are some risks and some returns are greater than others but investing in the arts is a sound venture with overall paybacks too consistent to ignore.  When our tax dollars are used to fund the arts they provide direct economic benefits to states and communities, they create jobs, attract investments, generate tax revenues, and stimulate local economies through tourism and consumer purchases. A robust arts industry prepares our children for the 21st century, and fills our lives with discovery and learning. Government funding is a crucial element in maintaining the arts industry even in tough economic times.  After all, the arts are not part of the recession; they are part of the recovery. Pablo Picasso was on to something when he said, "Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life".

Jazz singer and NC resident,
Nnenna Freelon
On a positive note: I got to spend the day with some great friends plus meet a ton of people passionate about the arts! I got to hear inspiring stories by several speakers including the golden voice of jazz singer and NC resident, Nnenna Freelon. We had the pleasure of meeting Onslow County Representative Phil Shepard. He was kind enough to meet with several members of our group without an appointment. He even invited us to lunch but we had to decline as our lunch was already provided by ARTS NC.

On a negative note: Our meeting with Onslow County Representative George Cleveland was cut short from the fifteen minutes scheduled to a whopping three minutes. Our appointment with him was disappointing to say the least as his mind seemed elsewhere. The main disappointment was the 23% cut in funding of the grass roots art grants that will directly effect us here in Onslow County.

NC Legislature Building
Raleigh, NC

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