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  • Nick Bates

Fiscal Focus: The Arts

Why the Public Should Invest The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.                                                                                                                                                       –Aristotle

Art reflects who we are as a community. In addition to the intrinsic value of the art, we can quantify the gains by realizing that the arts create 231,000 Ohio jobs and bring more than $25 billion to the states’ economy.  Studies consistently show how a strong arts program in a school leads to better student performance in other subjects. As we look at the world in which we live, we want to see, hear, and feel beauty around us.  This is why businesses and individuals appreciate communities where the arts are strong.

The Current Reality The Ohio legislature established the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) over 45 years ago to oversee public investments in art.  In Ohio, the state investment creates further private investment. For every $1 of state money, private donors contribute $52.  Studies have consistently shown that when the state cuts its investment, so do private individuals.

The OAC filters 82% of its resources out as grants to community groups, schools, organizations, and individuals.  In times of economic uncertainty, investments into the arts are often the first things cut.  We see this on the local level when schools cut back on art and music programs, and the state often acts in the same way.

In the FY 2010-11, significantly lower revenue from the 2005 tax overhaul coupled with the economic recession led to cuts to the OAC by 47%. This left the OAC with a 2-year budget of approximately $14.2 million.  In Governor Kasich’s proposal for the 2012-13 budget, Governor Kasich proposed cutting an additional 19.5% to the OAC from the General Revenue Fund.  However, this did not occur and instead, Ohio saw a funding increase to $17.2 billion.  This increase in spending is notable because many other states were continuing to slash their public investments in art.

The 2014-15 Budget Prior to the cuts to our revenue system and the economic downturn, Ohio invested over $20 billion in a biennium towards the arts.  While the last budget made steps towards getting us back on track, we need to continue this effort.

As we learned in the last budget, a 19.5% cut can be turned into a budget increase when dedicated legislators hear from dedicated advocates on what these cuts mean. The governor has asked each state agency for budgets at 100% and 90% of current funding levels.  Maintaining funding at the $17.2 billion level, factoring in inflation, is effectively a cut.  Advocates will need to let their legislators know that flat line funding is unacceptable while Ohio is still recovering from the 2008-2009 recession.  We need to get Ohio back on track by continuing to invest in the public services that make our communities stronger.

Also affecting the arts, as part of the upcoming budget season, Ohio will likely be presented with a new education funding formula.  Many of the OAC grants are to schools and organizations that have strong collaborations with schools.  The school funding formula could impact arts funding by requiring more OAC funds to be directed at schools to maintain current services and investments.  The new funding formula could also impact the arts if some subjects are more weighted for funding than others.  A well-rounded education needs to support strong investments in the arts for our students and community.

Speak Up! If you would like to get involved as the state budget nears and our advocacy increases, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or sign up for our emails. Please read our past Fiscal Focus articles on K-12 education, state parks, mental health, senior services, or privatization.

If you’re interested in additional information on state parks in the state budget or have any other related question, please contact us.

#FiscalFocus #Humanities

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