Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 22, 2008

Host: Ted Simons

state of the Arts

  • With the economic downturn, are arts organizations experiencing reduced attendance and patronage? As with all state agencies, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which sponsors artists and arts-related programs, took a budget reduction this legislative session. Bob Booker, Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, talks about the state of the arts in Arizona.
  • Bob Booker - Executive Director, Arizona Commission on the Arts
Category: The Arts

View Transcript
>>Ted Simons:
I think you did. thank you very much.

>>Ted Simons:
Non-Profit Arts Organizations rely on individual and corporate contributions for a large part of their budgets with the current economic tightening, that support is down. the arizona commission on the arts sponsors artists and arts-related programs. like many State agencies, its funding from the Legislature was recently reduced. We'll talk more about that in a moment. First, here is a closer look at what the the Arizona Commission on the Arts does.

>>Merry Lucero:
The Arizona Commission on the Arts connects artists and communities through many diverse arts programs and services. The agency delivers grants to support and promote statewide public access to arts and cultural activity. Some of the programs and organizations which receive funding from the Arizona Commission on the Arts include museums, local craft showcases, visual artists, professional dancers, musicians and performers. Each year, the Commission provides funding and professional support to more than 50 arts festivals across the State. The Commission's grants fund arts education and hands-on arts learning programs in schools in urban, suburban and rural areas throughout Arizona.

>>Ted Simons:
Joining me now to talk about the economy's impact on patronage for the arts is Bob Booker, Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Good to have you here.

>>Bob Booker:

>>Ted Simons:
Let's talk about the hit you took: 10\%?

>>Bob Booker:
We took 10\%, the same amount that most agencies took this year. at the appropriations hearing we've been watching the financial situation and the deficit coming and deficit grew from under a billion when I started talking about legislature at the beginning of the year to 2 billion at the end. we walked in and said we would take a 10\% hit. The Arts community uses the Federal dollars and we understand the State's in a bad situation, and we will accommodate that. We worked to reduce our staff and reduce travel and costs, and were able to accommodate a 10\% reduction in the budget.

>>Ted Simons:
That's how the funding cut impacted your commission. How is the economy impacting what you're doing?

>>Bob Booker:
The economy is being hit by travel in the travel area. We're seeing people choose to fly less, we're seeing people choose to travel more locally. People are aware of gas costs, and aware of other things, cost of food. We're seeing some reductions, modest reductions in annual gifts to arts organizations to non-profits. People may not be taking the membership to the theater or museum. We're seeing modest cutbacks in that. We are seeing arts organizations step forward and talk about programs they have that are free. A lot of organizations have free admission. There's a family fun weekends that happens, reduced ticket prices for groups. showup.com a great one in the Valley offers half-price ticket sales.

>>Ted Simons:
give me that.

>>Bob Booker:

>>Ted Simons:

>>Bob Booker:
They help people learn and experience the arts in Arizona.

>>Ted Simons:
I imagine fewer grants to the artists in the programs.

>>Bob Booker:
We will have to reduce modestly. We saw the writing on the wall, and made cuts administratively before this happened. I think we'll be in good shape in upcoming year. The arts are the vital part of the community across Arizona. We are willing to share the reduction across the lines no more and no less than any others.

>>Ted Simons: You mentioned gas prices and tourism down, and that means people are staying close to home.

>>Bob Booker:
That means a great thing. Summertime has great festivals going on, and museums are a great place to spend the afternoon, quite literally. In the fall new seasons with the arts and symphony and theaters offering discount tickets to folks, offering Saturday performances and matin´┐Że performances that are reduced. we hope Arizona stays in Arizona this year and become cultural tourists and seeks out everything that is art in Arizona.

>>Ted Simons:
Compare and contrast the arts in Arizona, generalize it to other parts of the country.

>>Bob Booker:
I think what we have in Arizona that's exciting is we have a vital arts community in every county of the State. You can go to Yuma, Flagstaff, Sedona and others and there are large populations of working artists and we know they have volunteer ethics. artists tend to volunteer more than any other industries and they provide for young people and families. there's a lot to see in Arizona no matter what city you are visiting.

>>Ted Simons:
How do you convince lawmakers, skeptics and those that don't originally go? How do you convince them that it's important?

>>Bob Booker:
If you go to the Harris Poll, for instance, 92\% say it's important, and 93\% believe it's a vital part of the education. If the politicians are listening to the voices of Arizonians and Americans, they should be hearing that the arts are important in our lives and community. They have an economic impact to our community, they bring dollars into communities both rural and urban. The arts literally change the lives of children in classrooms. They keep kids in school longer. They help kids with inner personal skills, they help with personal understanding. The arts are not something that ever should be cut in our society. In fact, the arts are really what come to play when things are tough. Going back to World War II, the National Gallery in DC was opened for service families to visit for free. If you showed up on Broadway during World War II, you got free tickets to see "Oklahoma". After 9/11, we saw a rise in Symphony Attendance and other shows in America because people wanted to be more rounded. Where do they go?

>>Ted Simons:
www.acarts.com. That website is on the screen right now. Thank you for joining us.

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