From: Shelly Silver (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Feb 09 2009 - 08:32:42 PST
dear frameworkers living in the US:
now might be a good time to make your opinions known in any way we
can. here's one way:
FEINSTEIN JOINS SENATE MAJORITY IN EXCLUDING ARTS FROM STIMULUS PACKAGE
by Mike Boehm
February 8, 2009
Maybe the arts just aren't that stimulating. At least that seems to
be the sense of the U.S. Senate -- including California Democrat
Diane Feinstein, who joined a wide majority Friday in passing an
amendment "to ensure that taxpayer money is not lost on wasteful and
non-stimulative projects" such as funding museums, theaters and art
Americans for the Arts, which has been fighting for a crumb or two of
the federal economic stimulus package to land on the table of
nonprofit arts organizations, reported that its side took a drubbing
to the tune of 73 votes to 24. The arts advocacy and lobbying
organization labeled the amendment to the Senate's $827-billion
stimulus proposal "egregious" in its exclusion of "any ... museum,
theater [or] art center" from sharing in the bailout. At least the
arts are in popular company: Also excluded are any "gambling
establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, community
park ... and highway beautification project."
Americans for the Arts notes that among those voting for Muskogee,
Okla., Republican Tom Coburn's amendment to freeze out the arts were,
"surprisingly," Feinstein, Charles Schumer of New York, Robert Casey
of Pennsylvania and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. California's other
senator, Barbara Boxer, voted against the amendment.
Americans for the Arts is organizing an e-mail campaign in hopes of
erasing Coburn's amendment from the final draft of the stimulus bill
that will be worked out between conferees from the Senate and the
House of Representatives. The House version of the stimulus bill
includes $50 million in direct grants to the arts, to be allocated
via the National Endowment for the Arts. If you're keeping score, $50
million is about one seventeen-thousandth of $827 billion.
The arts organization and other advocates also are planning to run
ads with the slogan "Arts = Jobs" this week in political journals.
The role call can be found here <http://tinyurl.com/ahux4n>
Copyright 2009 Los Angeles Times
CONGRESS NEEDS TO PASS A CULTURAL JOBS BILL
by Christopher Knight
February 5, 2009
Congress is closing in on the down payment of a huge spending
package, designed to create jobs to ward off double-digit
unemployment and begin a revival of the tanking U.S. economy. So here
is a modest proposal: The federal government - which means you and I
- should pump $62 billion into the nation's nonprofit cultural
Yes, that's billion-with-a-b, not million-with-an-m.
Forget about the silly dickering over an anemic $50-million boost for
the National Endowment for the Arts. About 100,000 nonprofit arts
groups operate in the 50 states. Collectively they employ almost 6
million people. Crisis is a time for boldness, not timidity, and few
recall an economic crisis quite like this one. So art museums,
symphonies, theaters, dance companies and other cultural centers
should get a huge infusion of funds.
Apparently the money is there, waiting to be spent. The question is
what to spend it on. The Obama administration has given stimulus
plans two goals: to create jobs that move money into and through the
faltering economy, and to do it in ways that benefit the citizenry.
In both instances, I vote for ballet, not bombs.
That simple, stark distinction is how I came up with my arbitrary
cultural funding figure. Separate from stimulus plans, Boeing and
Lockheed Martin have been angling for $62 billion to maintain funding
for production of their F-22 Raptor fighter plane, and it looks like
they might get it - even though the weapon, conceived during the Cold
War, is irrelevant to current U.S. security requirements. The Raptor
is a fine machine, designed in the 1980s to guarantee American Air
Force superiority over the Soviet MiG-40. You may have noticed,
however, that the Soviet Union disappeared about 20 years ago. Yet
the costly Raptor program lumbers on.
President Obama must decide by March 1 on its continuation. Lawrence
Korb, assistant Defense secretary in the Reagan administration and a
widely respected national security analyst, has described the F-22 as
"the most unnecessary weapons system being built by the Pentagon."
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, a holdover from the Bush
administration, has been critical of its usefulness and cost.
Yet that hasn't stopped 46 senators, led by Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)
and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), senior legislators in the states that
primarily build the thing, from signing a letter to the president
urging F-22 continuation in the 2010 budget. So have more than 150
representatives in the House. According to Congressional Quarterly,
the old pitch that the airplane is a security demand has been gilded
with a new one: An ad campaign <http://tinyurl.com/ch5swm> says the
F-22 is now essential to stave off unemployment in a collapsing
The deal will cost the government more than $650,000 per job, which
seems rather pricey. It's a make-work scam for the
military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned 50
years ago would eventually sink the nation.
By contrast, jobs at stake in the nonprofit cultural sector dwarf
those assigned to the fighter plane. The letter to Obama says ...
... the F-22 provides $12 billion annually in national economic
activity through 25,000 jobs in 44 states, as well as another 70,000
that are indirectly affected by the program. Meanwhile, the national
lobbying group Americans for the Arts says the country's 5.7-million
workers in the nonprofit culture industry contribute $166 billion to
the annual economy.
Here's one example of how jobs-stimulus money could be productively
spent on cultural infrastructure. Ever since it opened a
quarter-century ago, the former warehouse space in Little Tokyo
operated by L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art has been universally
acclaimed as a superlative exhibition venue. The successful adaptive
reuse even became a model for other admired projects, including
London's Tate Modern and New York's Dia: Beacon.
Yet MOCA's aging warehouse has problems. The absence of
museum-quality climate controls limits the long-term display of art
from the permanent collection, as well as the short-term loan of art
from other museums. Curatorial support-space is inadequate, visitor
services minimal. As is, optimum potential will never be reached.
MOCA estimates the upgrade cost at about $20 million. The rehab would
create and retain construction jobs, directly as well as indirectly
from suppliers; ensure future levels of museum employment; and add
permanent infrastructure value to the cultural landscape.
Now, multiply that by 100,000. I suspect every one of America's
nonprofits has at least one unfunded project that it would like to
get going - "shovel-ready," as it were, even if the job doesn't
involve bricks and mortar. A program tour, say, or a schools program.
A big-ticket job like MOCA's could get individual scrutiny, but merit
review for all of them is hardly practical; so how would funds for a
cultural infrastructure stimulus package be allotted?
One way might be to use an institution's most recent IRS statement of
endowment funds or operating budget as a percentage yardstick, with
minimum standards for stimulus expenditures. (Trust, then verify
later.) An endowment or operating ceiling could be established,
exempting wealthy outfits with substantial resources even in times of
economic hardship. (The Metropolitan Museum and the Getty don't need
stimulus.) For arts groups that operate without an endowment, minimum
allocations could be established. Eligible organizations could be
limited to those founded five or more years ago, guaranteeing basic
Since concert halls, theaters, literary salons and other arts
organizations have different operating structures, other jobs-funding
methods are surely possible. But for those that accept stimulus
funds, socially beneficial strings could also be attached - say,
eliminating admission fees to visit the permanent collection of a
tax-exempt museum, or lowering ticket prices for performing arts.
That would make stimulus a twofer: Cultural opportunities would
expand for anyone who wants to participate, a boon during a time of
spiraling unemployment and pinching pennies.
Sounds good - but do I really think a beneficial cultural stimulus
package has a snowball's chance in Hades of happening? No. How about
that wasteful F-22 funding? Yes; in fact I'll be shocked if it
Why? Because ever since a bunch of farmers, merchants and other
small-businesspeople fought the American Revolution against the East
India Company and its nominal CEO, King George III, corporations have
been the nation's primary obstacle to life, liberty and the pursuit
of happiness. They still are.
Culture is all about pursuing happiness, so even in a crisis it
barely stands a chance. If you doubt it, ask the Wall Street bankers
who have gotten hundreds of billions in bailouts and bonuses - and
stand to get more. Then ask your senator or representative, who can't
get elected without them.
Copyright 2009 Los Angeles Times
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.