If you've been following the arts portion of the state budget debate, it finally appears to have come down to brass tacks -- if you haven't spoken out, arts advocates say, now's the time.
Last night, the Republican-controlled State Senate approved a version of the budget which includes no funding for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. The PCA's funding of groups and individual artists is important, but as the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council notes, it goes beyond that: No PCA funding would also mean cuts in National Endowment for the Arts funding, which only materializes with matching funds from state arts agencies.
This is an especially bad time for the arts locally, with ticket sales down, grants down and funding from the Allegheny Regional Asset District down due to declines in sales-tax revenue. The loss of PCA funding would critically injure many arts groups, forcing layoffs and program cutbacks.
The budget bill, HB 1416, is now before the State House. GPAC and other arts advocates are urging people to contact their legislators to tell them to "nonconcur" with HB 1416 as amended. This will give arts supporters a chance to restore some $14 million in PCA funding (a tiny fraction of the overall budget). But the vote is coming soon, so call today.
To find contact info for your legislator, see Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania's Legislative Action Center at http://capwiz.com/artsusa/pa. Type in your ZIP code in the box at the top of the page.
For more information, contact the GPAC or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.