Last ditch effort to restore arts funding expected Monday
Maneuvering to mitigate massive cuts — the state arts community characterizes them as fatal — to Decentralized Arts Funding and Statewide Arts Grants is expected today at the state Capitol as the House and Senate iron out House Bill 76, an ancillary appropriations bill that provides hundreds of millions of dollars for such agencies as a central regional laundry for state-operated health and mental health facilities, the Office of Risk Management and a state police training center. The Louisiana Partnership for Arts Advocacy, a statewide consortium of arts councils and other cultural agencies, hopes lawmakers can at the very least restore cuts to DAF and SAG meted out during the session that go far beyond the cuts proposed in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s executive budget.
As it now stands, HB 1, the $26 billion state budget approved by the House on Sunday and sent to Jindal for his signature, cuts DAF funding by 45 percent, from $2.5 million to $1.4 million — in line with Jindal’s proposed cut. SAG, however, will be slashed a crippling 85 percent, from $2.3 million to $340,000. In his executive budget submitted before the session began, Jindal proposed setting DAF funding at $1.4 million and SAG at just over $939,000, funding levels which already represented drastic cuts; in the 2009-2010 fiscal year budget, DAF receives more than $2.3 million while SAG receives nearly $2.2 million.
In a plea sent via e-mail on Sunday to members urging them to contact lawmakers, the LPAA characterized Sunday’s House approval of HB 1 as “a black day for culture in Louisiana,” arguing that the cuts to DAF and SAG would kill arts agencies’ ability to equitably fund local arts programming and could sound the death knell for some major arts organizations. Decentralized Arts Funding is distributed in local communities in the form of grants by arts councils like the Acadiana Center for the Arts; 95 percent of the funding supports local artists and programming. Statewide Arts Grants go to major arts organizations like the AcA, as well as to large groups like symphony orchestras.
Even if lawmakers restore the cuts that go beyond Jindal’s budget — LPAA sources say Sens. Mike Michot of Lafayette and Mike Walsworth of West Monroe, both Republicans, will try through the Senate Finance Committee to do just that — arts programming on the local level is still likely to suffer a devastating blow. Supporters of arts funding in Louisiana argue that by choking the cultural economy, the Legislature is ensuring a lasting negative impact on the very thing that generates billions annually in the form of tourism to Louisiana. The state’s Office of Culture, Recreation and Tourism has estimated that for every dollar spent by the state on the cultural economy, seven dollars are returned in the form of sales taxes and motel occupancy taxes. And the LPAA points out that the roughly $5 million in funding for DAF and SAG in the current budget, which expires at the end of June, is less than the cost of constructing a single mile of two-lane highway.
JUNE 17 If anyone ever wonders why Saints fans hate Atlanta with a capital H, here's a good indication. Radio "professionals" at an Atlanta station created an entire segment around making fun of former Saints player Steve Gleason, who is now paralyzed by ALS. Listen, nobody's ever accused DJs of being rocket scientists. But how could someone think it is amusing to pretend to ask a man with a degenerative, fatal disease if he will be alive next week? The DJs have been fired, and are now whining about how gutless their former bosses are. Wow.
JUNE 18 Here's the latest from the Advocate on the fatal hit-and-run accident allegedly involving the president of the Livingston Parish School Board. He's accused by police of hitting a 21-year-old man on a highway early Sunday and driving away. The man died at a hospital later. On Monday, police seized the president's truck and towed it away. But he's available for board meetings: apparently a $500 bond is sufficient for this type of thing over in St. Helena Parish.
JUNE 18 Former broadcast journalist Griffin Scott has posted this plea on his blog for financial assistance from his readers. Scott, who says he was fired after he wrote something fairly innocuous (for Facebook) on his wall, is suing a media giant for his job back. He's framed himself as David going after a bloated media giant, and he's probably not far off.
JUNE 18 Here's a fairly absurd column posted on DIG Magazine about the completely absurd practice of naming killer storms. Tornadoes don't have names. Blizzards don't have names. But hurricanes do, and there's a big process to bestow them, Jacques Cormery writes. He's right about the crazy assemblage of names -- this year, there's everything from Tanya to Humberto -- and his idea that we don't waste good names on killer storms is a good one.
JUNE 17 Political columnist John Maginnis has some advice for Louisiana Republicans: grow up. After the schism that occurred in this past session - fiscal hawks teaming up with Democrats to spank the Republican "majority" and hand Gov. Jindal his, er, aspirations for continued solon control -- they need to figure out how to get along with each other, Maginnis writes.
JUNE 17 Here's the Picayune's obit story for Dorothy 'Miss Dot' Domilise, the lady who made poboys at the uptown restaurant that bears her name. Miss Dot moved to New Orleans during World War II, where she met and married her husband Sam. When she passed away Friday she was 90, and had spent more than 60 of those years working at the restaurant on Annunciation Street.
JUNE 17 This editorial in the Advocate speaks in favor of the consent decrees that have federal judges overseeing police operations and the sheriff's parish prison in New Orleans. Mayor Landrieu and Sheriff Gusman can't get along, so outside forces, like the Inspector General and the judges, are needed to make sure things run right, the editorial opines.
JUNE 18 Here's a post from Manny Schewitz on Forward Progressives that is good for a chuckle. Manny had an epiphany back in November, and is sharing it with us today: he believes that Fox "News" is killing the GOP by pandering to right wing nuts. Now, don't get it twisted: Manny's not broke up about it. He says he enjoys watching the downward spiral with a shot of whiskey and "a schadenfreude chaser."
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.