Thursday, February 13, 2014

Independent Oklahoma Arts Council: Vital For State

Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition wants to be sure you are aware of several proposals that could impact the arts during this legislative session. Below, please find information and resources regarding these proposals. We encourage you to contact your representatives (preferably by phone or in person) to let them know how you feel about each of these issues.

The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC)’s work would be negatively affected by the consolidation or elimination of the Oklahoma Arts Council in direct funding and training.
Contact: The Office of Governor Mary Fallin, (405)521-2342 or  (918)581-2801

Gov. Fallin's
budget proposal calls for the consolidation of the Oklahoma Arts Council (OAC) with the Oklahoma Department of Tourism. The Oklahoma Historical Society and three state commissions were also included in this proposal.

Potential consequences of consolidation:
Funding Cuts

Consolidation would result in significant cuts in grants, services and staff at the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Loss of Federal & Regional Funding
Consolidation would result in a loss of more than $1.5 million from the 
National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid-America Arts Alliance.

Integrity of the Grant Making Process
As part of a larger agency without an independent board, the objectivity and transparency of OAC's grant review process would be jeopardized.

Future Administrative Commitment
There is no assurance that a future Secretary of Tourism will be devoted to the mission of OAC.
Click for more information about the potential consequences of consolidation.

UPDATE 2/26/14
Consolidation has been introduced as HB3028. Consolidation would merge the Oklahoma Arts Council into the Department of Tourism. 
This bill is expected to be heard in committee 2/27/14. 
Please contact your representative now. 

Update 2/28/14

HB3028 passed out of committee.  This bill could be heard on the House floor as soon as Monday, March 3. The Governor issued comments praising the passage of the bill. 

Arts supporters should be in touch ASAP with their representative to express the consequences of consolidation on the arts throughout the state (see above). 


Update: 3/13/14
HB 3028 to consolidate the Oklahoma Arts Council into the Department of Tourism did not get heard on the house floor, so is effectively finished.  This is positive news for the arts and culture industry across the state. Be sure to thank your lawmaker for supporting public funding for the arts

Please keep aware the Oklahoma Arts Council must still be considered for its appropriation, which we hope will be the same as in past or comparable to other agencies' cuts (The Governor said to expect approximately 5% reduction). 

Your State Senators and State Representatives

HB2850: Oklahoma Arts Council Funding
If approved, this bill would permanently eliminate all funding for the Oklahoma Arts Council. This bill is in the Appropriations Committee now and would need to go to the House floor, Senate and Governor’s office before being approved.

UPDATE 2/26/14
HB 2850 has been withdrawn from consideration. Please see updated consolidation bill above. 

Resources for Arts Advocacy:

Oklahomans for the Arts
Join the statewide advocacy organization for the arts and follow their email blasts for legislative alerts.

Oklahoma Arts Council's 2013 Impact Report
Read more about the Oklahoma Arts Council’s work throughout our state.

Cites an $8 return in tax revenue for each $1 invested in the arts.  Also gives overview of jobs and rest of arts industry’s economic impact.

National arts data that can be pulled depending on the decisionmaker’s interests, such as facts on arts and the economy, health, education, etc.

Why Should the Government Fund the Arts? 
Great points and research in this brief from the National Association of State Arts Agencies. 

Advocacy Best Practices
Learn more about how to advocate well.

Join this Facebook group to stay in touch with the grassroots effort to save the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Be an arts advocate:
Here are a few key points to focus on when sharing information about the positive impact of the arts:

For example, did you know that for every $1 in public funding to the Oklahoma Arts Council generates $8 in economic impact? That’s a good investment. (Source: 2008 economic impact study of arts and culture organizations in Oklahoma.)

Studies consistently demonstrate the arts' impact on education and overall student achievement. Students with four years of arts education in high school score significantly higher on college entrance exams than students with little or no arts education. Arts education has been shown to increase performance in non-arts subjects like math and science. Other proven benefits include an increase in school attendance and civic engagement, and a decrease in anti-social behaviors.

Communities that offer vibrant arts and cultural amenities are more likely to attract young professionals, retain young talent, appeal to businesses, and provide a setting where people want to live and raise families.

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