IAC: Illinois Arts Crisis

11.11.09

On Wednesday, October 28, Governor Quinn placed an additional 3% reserve on the budgets of state agencies, including the Illinois Arts Council (IAC). This action reduces our budget from $7.8 million to about $7.5 million. Given the continual decline of state revenues, this may well be the harbinger of more cuts to come before the end of this fiscal year. And FY2011 will be worse.

First, Governor Blagojevich arbitrarily cut the Arts Council budget by 30% in FY2008 and 2009.  As the state’s fiscal crisis worsened, the legislature reduced IAC programs support for FY2010 by 50%. The Governor then reduced the agency’s budget by another 9% in late summer and now has placed an additional 3% reserve on the remaining funds. The agency’s programs have been decimated and the staff has been reduced by 10%. The Arts Council budget has plummeted from $19.8 million (90% of which was awarded as grants) to $7.5 million in just three years – an almost 63% decrease.

Of all times, the people need the arts now. The arts buoy the soul and cheer the mind. They provide momentary respite from the crushing realities of the ongoing recession. They are a vital part of the economy; no community can be vibrant without them.

We are told small business is the backbone of our nation’s economy – and small business will anchor the recovery.  Most arts organizations and many artists are small businesses. They provide jobs and spend money in their communities for supplies, rent, utilities, and for other goods and services. They must be supported.

It is hard to know at this point the long-term consequences of this precipitous drop in support for the arts.  We do know, however, this defunding of the arts will have devastating and lasting effects on the life of the people of Illinois and, ultimately, the economic and community life of the state.

Sincerely,

Shirley R. Madigan

Chairman, Illinois Arts Council

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