Major Arts Cut Planned
When legislators peruse budgets looking for fat to trim, there's one line item that's always too easy to pass up: the arts.
The Legislative Finance Committee is on the verge of hacking the New Mexico Arts budget to the tune of $400,000. That's fully half of NMA's arts services budget, which includes grant funding. While it's true that times are indeed tough and the burdens of a new era of miserly management must be shared across the board, such a dramatic cut in arts funding indicates that some fat may need to be trimmed from the LFC's thinking on this matter.
A 2005 study by the Western States Arts Federation indicates that the non-profit arts sector--the primary beneficiaries of NMA--is a $63 million dollar industry in New Mexico. It's also one that is clean: it's byproducts are confined to cultural enrichment and education.
In Santa Fe, a study by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research has demonstrated that the city benefits from a nearly 5 to 1 return on investment in the arts.
Both Santa Fe's and New Mexico's tourism industry rely heavily on luring people for cultural experiences (remember, we just hosted an international conference on cultural and creative tourism) and our reputation as a center for the arts. The arts have never done anything but add to New Mexico's value, and, more to the point, its bottom line.
As the federal goverment prepares to embark on a massive New Deal 2.0 infrastructure investment--from which New Mexico is clamoring for crumbs--we should remember our proud legacy of New Deal era art generated throught the Works Progress Administration. How quickly we forget that the history and legacy we take for granted exists because of the way it has been detailed in murals, paintings, photography and literature.
House Appropriation and Finance Committee members will meet on Wednesday, January 28 at 1:30 pm to consider the budget for the Department of Cultural Affairs, which is NMA's parent agency. Advocates for maintaining NMA's current budget are urging a simple message to the committee members, as soon as possible and from as many people as possible:
"We are very concerned about the Legislative Finance Committee's budget cuts to New Mexico Arts. Please restore funding to New Mexico Arts' budget."
The following is a list of HAFC members, by rough area of representation (phone numbers are capitol phones, so 505 is the area code for all numbers):
Kiki Saavedra (chair) 986-4316
Danice Picraux (vice chair) 986-4438 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathy McCoy – Cedar Crest 986-4214 email@example.com
Richard Berry 986-4452 firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Larranaga 986-4215 email@example.com
Rhonda King – Moriarty/Santa Fe/Tijeras area
Brian Egolf - Santa Fe 986-4211 firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucky Varela (Deputy Chair) - Santa Fe 986-4318
Jeanette Wallace - Los Alamos 986-4452
Nick Salazar - Espanola/Rio Arriba 986-4433
Don Bratton – Hobbs 986-4227 email@example.com
Richard Vigil – San Miguel county 986-4242 firstname.lastname@example.org
Antonio Lujan – Las Cruces 986-4436 email@example.com
Jonie Gutierrez – Las Cruces 986-4234 firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Tripp – Socorro 986-4220 email@example.com
John Heaton - Carlsbad 986-4432 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ray Begaye – Shiprock 986-4436 email@example.com
Patricia Lundstrom – Gallup 986-4435 firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone having trouble reaching their representative can call the Legislative switchboard: 505-986-4300
The HAFC isn't the end of the story, however, so those who want to protest the cut can continue to do so after Wednesday.