Arizona Horizon Banner

February 6, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: Arizona Arts Congress

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Arts Congress will be held Wednesday, February 5. Hundreds of arts advocates from around the state will converge on the Arizona State Capitol to learn about legislative issues and meet with elected officials to let them know about the impact arts have on our state. Rusty Foley, executive director, Arizona Citizens for the Arts, and Steve Martin, managing director of Childsplay, will discuss the Arts Congress.
  • Rusty Foley - Executive Director, Arizona Citizens for the Arts
  • Steve Martin - Managing Director - Childsplay
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: the arts, art, artbeat, arizona, congress, legislative, issue, impact,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of the Arizona art beat looks at an effort by the arts community to educate lawmakers on the importance of the arts in public policy. The Arizona Arts Congress was held yesterday with hundreds of advocates from around the state converging on the capitol. Joining us now is rusty Foley executive director of Arizona Citizens for the Arts. And Steve Martin, managing director of Childsplay, a theater for kids and families in Phoenix. Good to have you both here.

Rusty Foley: Thank you.

Steve Martin: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Arts Congress, describe that for us.

Rusty Foley: Arts Congress one opportunity that art supporters have every year to come together at the state capitol to meet with their legislators from their home districts to talk about the impact and the importance of arts in their home local communities. We gather, we have some arts activities going on in the mall, but the most important part is the one on one meetings that our supporters have with their legislators.

Ted Simons: Were you able to meet with every, at least every district was represented --

Rusty Foley: Every district was represented. And we met with just about every legislator. And if we didn't, we at least dropped by the office and said hello.

Ted Simons: What kind of issues were discussed?

Rusty Foley: Really the issues that we're focusing on these days with respect to the arts is the remarkable impact that arts have on local economies, on local community life. Arts are in excess of a half billion dollar industry in Arizona. And that impact extends to every community in Arizona. The primary means of affecting arts in the local communities by the state is really through the Arizona Commission on the Arts. And one of our purposes at arts Congress is to speak for the Arizona Commission on the Arts and for financial support for the Arizona commission.

Ted Simons: When you speak to lawmakers, when you address these issues, what kind of response?

Steve Martin: Yesterday the response was terrific. At least with the legislators that I spoke to in my district. And in the Chandler, Tempe area. One of the things that they're interested in knowing was the impact of the funding dollars received by the organizations. That was extremely important to them. For my organization specifically, we got a fairly sizable increase in our grant support last year and we were able to parlay that into an extra staff person. So we actually added to the work force in our area. We were also able to increase our work in schools.

Ted Simons: The questions about the schools, I guess, were paramount as well. What did you hear from the lawmakers?

Steve Martin: They want to know -- they want to understand the value to speak to them in their terms of value. And so, when we do that, we talk about work force development. We talk about being able to attract businesses to the area that is going to increase employment numbers in the area. We also talk about making sure that we're educating our young people in a way that makes them want to stay here and work, innovative education reform projects as well in the school. The other thing that we like to talk about with legislators is how that money, like rusty said, goes back to the local economy. We are attracting 150,000 young people and families to the Tempe Center for the Arts in Tempe. And so those legislators really like to hear that, you know, those kinds of numbers are coming in. And then subsequently supporting other local businesses in the area, restaurants, etc.

Ted Simons: Is it a different approach when you are speaking with lawmakers than it might be if you were speaking with city leaders, with business leaders?

Rusty Foley: You know, I'm not so sure that it is. Really, I think what all of the groups share is an interest in growing the Arizona economy, helping our economy come out of this recession. Attracting new business. Creating attractive, livable communities and the arts play a role in all of that. And, as Steve said, contributing to the improvement in our schools and excellence in education. The arts have a critical role to play in all of that.

Ted Simons: Is that message getting across?

Rusty Foley: I think it is starting to get across. I think we have changed the way we talk about ourselves a little bit. We realized that we have a certain kind of contribution to make to communities that maybe we haven't been as clear as we should be about. And it is, indeed, that we -- there is a very tangible commitment to -- and impact on local business, tourism, schools.

Steve Martin: And everybody is measuring that impact. And it is important for the arts to continue to do that, to show what they do. We've gotten a couple of sizable national grants for our education programs. We go into the schools and work with them. We don't do it anymore unless we have an assessment metric set up and that we're working with qualified researchers that will track the progress of the programs on not only the teachers that we work with, but the students that we work with. Very fascinating one of our programs showed that student -- teachers who used our tools, our arts drama tools in their classrooms, their students showed a 20% increase in the writing test scores versus the students who were in the control group. We have actual numbers that actually show this, the improvement and use of the arts in the classroom and how important it can be.

Ted Simons: I want to see if the message is getting across. Do you think the message is getting across more now that the great recession is somewhat in the rearview mirror, although it is still showing up in certain spots.

Steve Martin: I don't know that the recession played a role in that. I think that there has been confusion in education for a long time. And what tools were necessary and what assessment tools were necessary. I think that all of that is finally starting to settle down and we're starting to see an integration of art into the education process. And it is an integration, as opposed to additional program, that this is really -- needs to go hand in hand with teaching math, science, reading, writing. It isn't oh, and then let's do flute class.

Ted Simons: Is that the best way to discuss the importance of the arts in general?

Rusty Foley: Well, I think that all of us are looking for solutions to the economy and the challenges in the economy in Arizona. So that's what we're talking about. We're talking about solutions. We know -- we have -- in recent years, we have developed more economic research around the impact of the arts and we know that for every dollar that is invested into the arts in Arizona, we return $1.50 back into the economy. That is a good return on investment. That is economic growth. That's job, as Steve says, it is support for other services. It's more tax revenue. And that's what people want to talk about today in Arizona. How do we continue to pull ourselves out of this recession? And the arts have an answer to that.

Ted Simons: How did the arts handle the recession? How did you handle the recession?

Steve Martin: It's been a very difficult challenge for us because for my organization, we work a lot with the schools. And so because school budgets were so up in the air every year, it was very difficult for us to count on the revenue that we were getting for school fees and attendance at our performances. And we saw dramatic drops particularly in corporate giving. The past 18 months, we've seen that maybe it has hit bottom. It has risen for us. Corporate giving will be up this year. Our foundation giving will be up this year and individual giving is going to be up. Ticket revenue is still kind of flat. I think that families are still unsure about what is going on in the economy these days. But we're feeling a much more optimistic about what is going on. I think that other arts organizations are feeling that way as well, but we think that that -- that getting out of that hole is going to be a long process.

Ted Simons: The idea of -- and not just the arts, but in other aspects of society, things were forged by the fire of the recession. You had to do what you did with and maybe you can get out of this thing maybe better than you came in with it. Any indication of that with the arts?

Rusty Foley: Absolutely. Absolutely. Organizations like Steve's and organizations, arts organizations all over Arizona in these last several years, they haven't simply been waiting around for the economy to turn. They have re-engineered themselves, adjusted their business models. They have worked very hard to demonstrate their relevance to the community. One of the reasons we felt it was so important this year to have conversations with the legislators about the Arizona Commission on the Arts is because the Commission on the Arts itself has been an instrument of change in this and they are granting guidelines. They are emphasizing fiduciary responsibility, emphasizing how arts organizations can demonstrate their connection to the community. They're emphasizing all of those things that really demonstrate the value of arts --

Steve Martin: Innovative delivery approach, where are we delivering our art and how are we? How do we increase access?

Ted Simons: That brings up a question. Maybe a little far afield but not too much, I hope. The impact of technology on the arts. I mean, you can walk -- it is like everyone has a TV now in their back pocket. I mean, how does that impact what you do as a live theater experience?

Steve Martin: Well, for theater, technology has always had an impact. When movies came out, they said that is the end of theater. Television came out, oops, that's the end of movies and theater. That hasn't been the case. People like the social atmosphere that exists when you attend a live performance. And you're all experiencing the same emotions and the same impact together in that -- in that one place. And it is that one moment in time. So, I think that -- and music is the same way, and dance. And I do think that it will -- it will transcend technology. The communication -- technology is becoming a new communication vehicle for us about how we talk to people and get them to our venues. You know, I love the Arizona Republic, but 35-year-old moms do not read the newspaper, unfortunately.

Ted Simons: Well, we certainly hope they're watching "Arizona Horizon" and we hope they enjoyed having both of you on. Good to have you both here. Thank you for joining us.

Steve Martin: Thank you.

Mexican Gray Wolves Bills

  |   Video
  • A bill has been introduced that would authorize employees of the Arizona Department of Agriculture to kill endangered Mexican gray wolves that have been preying on livestock. Two other bills relating to that issue have been introduced. Sandy Bahr, chapter director of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club and Bas Aja, executive vice president of the Arizona Cattle Feeders' Association, will discuss the pros and cons of the bills.
  • Sandy Bahr - Chapter Director and Executive Vice President, Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club, Bas Aja and Arizona Cattle Feeders' Association
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, sierra club, mexican, gray, wolves, bills, agriculture,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. A statehouse committee today approved a bill to roll back Medicaid expansion, which was approved just eight months ago. State representative Adam Kwasman sponsored the bill saying the state can't afford it. Representative Juan Mendez called the bill a quote sad attempt at campaigning. Kwasman is running for Congress in district one. House speaker Andy Tobin is also in that district one race. Earlier today, Tobin's attempts to slow down the use of Medicaid by able-bodied individuals was also approved by committee. A bill has been introduced in the state legislature that would authorize employees of the Arizona department of agriculture to kill endangered Mexican gray wolves that prey on livestock. Two other bills relating to that issue have also been introduced. Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Bas Aja, executive vice president of the Arizona Cattle Feeders' Association are here to discuss the issue. Good to have you both here. Thank you for joining us.

Sandy Bahr: Nice to be here

Bas Aja: Thank you.

Ted Simons: SB 1211, what does it say?

Sandy Bahr: Basically it says what you talked about it saying. It says it authorizes an employee of the department of agriculture to kill endangered Mexican gray wolves if they have been preying on livestock. It is unconstitutional. It's contrary to federal law. It is unethical, and it is also irresponsible of the legislature to encourage an employee of the state to break the law. And, so, we think that this bill needs to die a quick death in the legislature.

Ted Simons: Why is this bill in this manner necessary?

Bas Aja: Well, Ted, you know, the issue is very complex. When you deal with an issue that has nature, has people, it's got government programs, it's got lack of transparency, it's got distrust. It's got wild animals and wild areas. It is not as easy as some people think. Quite frankly, we are looking for management tools. One of the managers in the program is the United States Department of Agriculture, Arizona Department of Agriculture, Arizona Game and Fish, and this is a tool that is used throughout the world in and sometimes they have to euthanized.

Sandy Bahr: There are only 83 wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. They're still listed as endangered. They're not recovered. They're far from being recovered. And it is not a management tool that we use with endangered species. There are lots of other tools to use. There are ways to avoid conflicts. There is a program that helps ranchers avoid those conflicts. That is what we need to focus on. Not encouraging killing these animals.

Bas Aja: The importance to understand, we didn't introduce this conflict. The ranching families didn't introduce the conflict. Groups a sued and litigated introduced this conflict. Once you introduce conflict, you're going to have issues, especially with a wild animal that is the top of a food chain predator best known for two things, it's howl and its killing abilities. When you introduce that conflict into a wild area like that, there is going to be other conflicts that occur and this happens to be one of them.

Ted Simons: Is this by its nature, by the nature of the animal, by the nature of the area where the animal is being introduced, again, is conflict by its nature going to happen?

Sandy Bahr: Well, yes. There will be conflicts. And how do you address those conflicts? One of the ways that you do that is to try to avoid it as much as possible. And there are programs for doing that. The issue here is not introducing conflict. It is about restoring an animal that was totally gone from the landscape and ensuring that it is fulfilling its role in the ecosystem. It is important to have wolves there. They ensure that the elk and deer are fitter. They help to bring back riparian vegetation, vegetation along rivers and streams because they keep the elk moving instead of the elk hanging out there and eating everything in sight. It is important to have them on the landscape. It is a commitment that we, the American people, have made, and we, Arizonans have made, and it is just wrong for the legislature to promote this kind of irresponsible activity.

Bas Aja: Keeping the animals fit is an interesting concept with the wolf. You know, the wolf can't read the bumper sticker that says live in peace. It can't read that. It's known and is best for killing. So, you know, when it is out there -- and that is what it does naturally. It is not like it is something bad. It's what it knows and it is what it does. Very, very very well. And that is because they pack. And they know how -- they can take down anything that exists. But most importantly, what you have to understand where the ranch families are coming from, they're coming from an area where they had over 500,000 acre fire. And a lack of management. They're coming from an area where just -- they watched a whole generation of fish frogs and elk die in the fire, and nobody seems to care. They come from an area where those fires created flash floods that the streams ran black and nobody seemed to care. Now that they're having to live in an area, and we introduce this top of the food chain predator and they're waving their hands saying kind of help us. Make us a partner, not a victim.

Sandy Bahr: Well, and there is a program for that. Instead of wasting $250,000 and lining the pockets of another law firm, the legislature could allocate those dollars for the interdiction program which helps the ranchers. Craig Miller from defenders of wildlife talked about that at the legislature the other day. Unfortunately the people on the committee did not seem interest in problem solving. They're more interested in, you know, thumbing their nose at the federal government.

Bas Aja: The fact of the matter is, the litigation that is introduce -- been introduced over the wolf is massively been done by the other side, the people. They litigated to define the area. They litigated to list the wolf. They've litigated to get rid of the adaptive management operation committee that we have. They have litigated about the numbers. They are litigating the wolf to death. The -- what we need is management. We need management because when you can manage animals, when you manage land, when you manage people, you understand that those are tools. That's not litigation. You can't do that very good in court.

Ted Simons: This payment for presents plan, the idea of compensating ranchers for tolerating wolves and keeping compensation there to cattle lost to wolves, a couple of ways to compensate ranchers who might be affected by the animals who might affect their livestock. Is that not a compromise or something to look into?

Bas Aja: We have told people about that issue, there is a lot of history with that. And the history is when our government opened up these lands years ago, and told people, go west. Go west. Settle the lands. And then the army came along and said raise beef for us. We will buy all of the beef that you can raise. Guess what? Look what we have done, the wonderful food we have produced. What we told people years ago on the wolf, tell us how many wolves you want, where you want them, and what is it worth to the public to have them there?

Ted Simons: The idea of -- go ahead, please.

Sandy Bahr: Well, obviously it is worth a lot. The public has invested a lot in restoring wolves. The bottom line is wolves kill very few cattle. That is really the least of their problems, to be honest with you. Cattle die from disease and a lot of other things. Wolves is way down on the list. Some ranchers are interested in problem solving, unfortunately, the Arizona legislature isn't. This is what they do year after year. They pass things that are blatantly unconstitutional. They don't support recovery of endangered species despite the fact that the public in Arizona very strongly supports the endangered species act, supports recovery of wolves.

Bas Aja: The fact of the matter is, that would be all great if it was true. And unfortunately, I am somewhat of an expert on cattle. Not an expert in your field. But I am on cattle and I am in herds. I come from 25 generations of herdsmen. And I grew up watching the relationship between predator and prey. I have watched hundreds of interactions between predators and prey and I can tell you that it is not a really pretty thing, but it is the way it works out there. So, when you begin to understand that relationship between a top of the food chain predator and all of the rest of the animals, and then the people that are in that area, then you begin to understand where people come from when they have a program that has no transparency. What they see it as is this great big government surveillance system. Because they're in an area of the blue where they very seldom saw people. And they kind of liked it that way. And now what they have is they've got government officials on the ground, government officials in the air with airplanes surveying, and they are like can't somebody kind of bring us in the loop.

Sandy Bahr: When the wolves are recovered, we won't need all of that. And that's one of the things that we want to see. We want to see them recovered in that area, and in other parts of the state. So we have healthy ecosystems and so we have the animals playing the role they're intended to play. I know what predator prey relationships are, and I also have looked at the numbers. The numbers indicate that they don't take very many cattle. There are a lot of other reasons that the cattle die. Again, it is the least of the problems that the ranchers have out there, and there is a program for helping with it. I don't understand why there is so much resistance to actually making this work.

Bas Aja: Well, those numbers aren't quite right. I'm interested to know now that -- you spoke in -- I didn't believe the Sierra Club was supporting the delisting of the northern wolves.

Sandy Bahr: They're not recovered.

Bas Aja: 40,000 and we're not recovered. What's the number?

Sandy Bahr: There -- well, first of all, just using numbers doesn't tell you much of anything. If you look at the science, and I've looked at it a lot, you want populations that are ecologically affected. Fulfilling their role. Having 83 wolves in a small part, relatively small part of Arizona and New Mexico, is not recovered.

Bas Aja: And you hit on the science. And it is very important. Because the way our folks, ranch families up there see it and they have shared with me is that, you know, they care for animals. That is their living and livelihood. They are watching it program and saying this is the cruellest science experiment they have ever seen. They're harassing these animals to death. Chasing them, capturing them, collaring them, pulling them out of dens, putting numbers on them.

Ted Simons: Last question for you, can the Mexican Gray Wolf in any number survive in Arizona, should it survive in Arizona? It sounds like it is a beast out there.

Bas Aja: The wolves are out there now. And we're living with the wolves now. It is uncomfortable in many instances, but what we want is a better management program. The fact of the matter is the real range is in Mexico, hence --

Sandy Bahr: That is not correct.

Bas Aja: Hence its name.

Sandy Bahr: That is not correct.

Bas Aja: What do we call it? What is its name -- Roy Mcbride trapped the last --

Sandy Bahr: You know that -- you know that common names do not reflect where they're from. The range of the Mexican Gray Wolf is into Arizona and New Mexico. That is well documented.

Bas Aja: We are on the very extreme edge northern range.

Ted Simons: We need to stop it there. We never got to the fact of whether or not this is constitutional.

Sandy Bahr: It's not. It's not.

Ted Simons: Good to have you both here.

Sandy Bahr: Thank you.