Well, yes and no. In some ways, the rally was a triumph, in others though, it "masked a massive failure" as CL's Cinque Hicks noted in a column last August.
We needed the protest at the Capitol because an entire system of arts advocacy failed to deliver when it should have: before there was a crisis in the first place.
Like every other red-blooded, short-attention-span American, we in the arts community are impelled by crisis. We wait until the well has almost run dry and then panic when there’s not enough water left to go around.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Susan S. Weiner, executive director of the GCA, says that legislators are starved for information on what’s happening in the street. And artists are undeniably the experts on the social benefits of having a robust state arts agency. When no one shows up in legislators’ offices to push for the arts, they understandably conclude that no one cares.
Today, the Americans for the Arts Action Fund, a non-profit arts advocacy group, released a Senate report card, dolling out grades from A to F to U.S. senators according to what kind of support they've shown the arts recently. It "used criteria like casting votes in support of the arts, joining the Senate Arts Caucus, and more. Senators had three opportunities to vote on the arts during the past two years — from ensuring jobs and infrastructure projects in the arts could receive economic stimulus funds to supporting public art around our nation’s highways to ensuring museums received federal funds. All U.S. Senators had the chance to stand up for the arts."
So how did Georgia stack up? Well, we didn't make the Dirty Dozen, a group of 12 who got big fat F's (the offending parties' cheeks turn red when you mouse over their faces), but we weren't far off. Our Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, got a D and a D+, respectively. Clearly these gentlemen could use some prodding. As Hicks put it, "if rank and file artists don’t advocate for change no one will."
I bring all this up because of the AAAF report, but also because election Day is this Tues., Nov. 2. Chambliss isn't on the ballot this year (he was just reelected two years ago) and Isakson is seeking reelection in a race that's practically a gimmee.
As this week's editorial puts it, "if we want to further our self-interest, we need to focus on the very real threats facing our communities right now." And that includes the arts.
Check out CL's endorsements for our picks in key statewide and local races. In particular, Fulton County residents might want to acquaint themselves with the commission candidates, given that the Fulton Arts Council has been the largest single government granting agency in Georgia, including the state itself.
yeah, because Grant Park is miles away and isn't a park
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