Executive Budget excludes appropriation for the state Arts Commission

On Friday, January 15th, Governor Doug Ducey released his Executive Budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2017. Like the current Fiscal Year 2016 budget, this proposal does not include a General Fund appropriation for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, nor a provision for allocating interest from the state Rainy Day Fund as was done in Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015.

If this budget is passed by the Arizona Legislature, the Arts Commission will continue to operate with a grantmaking budget at its lowest level in more than 30 years.

In contrast and in view of improved state revenues, the Arts Commission requested $2 million for FY17 in the Executive Budget. With that allocation, the Commission would continue its extraordinary efforts to focus grantmaking and services on activities that connect our citizens to the arts and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

Arizona Citizens for the Arts supports the Arts Commission’s $2 million request and will continue to lobby energetically for it at the State Legislature.

At a time when community leadership is focused on ways to energize the Arizona economy, and restore resources to K-12 education, state universities, critical infrastructure and safety net social services, it is ironic that the Arizona Commission on the Arts is not being provided the resources it needs to meet its mission and contribute to the health of the state.

We are encouraged by the level of support for the Arts Commission among our key allies in the State Legislature. Still, it will take extraordinary efforts by people like you – our valued advocates – to insure that the $2 million request is included in the budget the Legislature will negotiate with the Governor.  

Over the next two months, we will be asking you to contact your legislators at key points in the legislative process to ask their support for the Arts Commission.

But the first step is to join our collective voice for arts and culture by attending the 2016 Arts Congress, February 4 at the State Capitol. Arts Congress is a direct opportunity for you to deliver your message about arts support to your state legislators. 

The Arizona Commission on the Arts has been doing important work while facing difficult funding circumstances since the beginning of the Great Recession. The Commission lost all General Fund appropriations in the FY12 budget after seeing the $20 million Arts Endowment fund swept in the two years before that.

In FY14 and FY15, a $1 million allocation from interest earned on the State Rainy Day Fund provided a partial restoration, bolstering the Arts Commission’s grantmaking, and provided for the development of new programs focused on entrepreneurship, innovation and community impact. In FY 16, even that allocation was removed from their grant making budget. With a proven record of maximizing the value, reach and impact of new funding through strategic investment and cross-sector partnerships, the Arts Commission stand poised to do so much more in FY17.

State revenues are recovering, and we believe it is more than time to invest $2 million in the Arts Commission to support the very programs and services that are encouraging arts and culture organizations to play larger roles in our community life and to insure access and availability to arts and culture experiences for all Arizonans.

Together, we must continue to make our case for the arts and culture, and the most immediate and important way you can help is by coming to the State Capitol on February 4 and participating in Arts Congress.