Dear friends and partners,
The Wisconsin Arts Board decided at its meeting last Friday to actively contest Governor Walker’s proposal to cut state funding for the arts by 73%, eliminate the Wisconsin Arts Board as a state agency, transfer its four remaining staff members to staff a program within the Department of Tourism, and count the remaining funds associated with the arts under the column of Marketing. More details can be found in the attached document, which outlines why the WAB finds his proposal in direct conflict with the goal to create jobs and economic recovery and growth for our state.
The Arts Board has enjoyed an increasingly productive and mutually supportive relationship with the Department of Tourism over our 38 year history, each agency focused on its unique mission but lending expertise and leveraging strength for the other. Our work is not redundant. Wisconsin, now more than ever, needs a state agency specifically focused on the arts and cultural infrastructure of its communities large and small, an agency that also provides a point of investment for that infrastructure. The state actually needs to invest in the arts to ensure the context and conditions that will make our economy robust and prosperous.
The Arts Board will lead non-partisan advocacy for restoration of the agency in the budget. We ask you to share these talking points with your Board of Directors, those on your mailing lists, and to expand your lists with every opportunity that a new audience or group is gathered. Your communications with Assembly and State Senate representatives in your district should include vivid narratives about what it would mean to lose both the grants and the counsel of WAB, your measure of the deep public value of this agency. If your legislators do not serve on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC), then we suggest that you ask both legislators to communicate with members on that committee on your behalf, asking that they restore the Wisconsin Arts Board with funding that reflects an appropriate 10% cut. And of course it would be helpful for you to also contact JFC members yourselves, as they serve on that committee as representatives of us all.
I also invite your suggestions for increased advocacy or for ways we can partner with you and support successfully casting a wide net across the state to harness shared determination to restore the possibility of a sturdy, inclusive economy.
With my gratitude for your hard work,
Chair, Wisconsin Arts Board