Tree Trunk, Baton Rouge LA 2007
All reproduction rights reserved Wm. Greiner
Louisiana arts: Death by 2.5 million cuts?
Statewide arts councils last week discovered Gov. Bobby Jindal’s executive budget calls for an 83% reduction to decentralized arts funding and a 31% cut to statewide arts grants, the two primary means through which the state funds local arts programs and artists. Arts groups began an urgent e-mail campaign the next day to convince legislators they represent a viable industry. The DAF’s approximately $3 million budget would be reduced by $2.5 million, which will likely have the biggest impact on smaller, rural programs, says Laura Larkin, grants and community development officer for the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, adding that DAF funding is based on population to ensure equitable distribution across 64 parishes.
Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, who preaches the value of the state’s cultural economy, is expected to address the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. “Louisiana is facing an economic challenge—we understand that, but we want to be part of the solution," says Assistant Secretary of Culture, Recreation and Tourism Scott Hutchenson. "This is a $350 million industry with a $7 return on every dollar invested.” Meanwhile, a jazz funeral for the arts is planned for 11:30 a.m. today in Lafayette Park in Baton Rouge. Those taking part are encouraged to bring hankies, umbrellas, musical instruments and protest signs.—Maggie Heyn Richardson
Baton Rouge Business Report 4/1/09