Friday, February 6, 2009

ARTS CUT FROM ECONOMIC RECOVERY BILL

This afternoon the U.S. Senate, during their consideration of the economic recovery bill, approved an egregious and despicable amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that stated “None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.” According to MSNBC, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said the agreement was a bipartisan effort and cited the work of Senators Collins and Specter. "We trimmed the fat, fried the bacon and milked the sacred cows," Nelson said.

That use of language is horrible and Senator Nelson should be ashamed. Zoos, community parks, museums, theaters, arts centers.... they are nothing but fat that can be trimmed and bacon that can be fried? Disgusting!

Unfortunately, the amendment passed by a wide vote margin of 73-24, and surprisingly included support from many high profile Senators including Chuck Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and several other Democratic and Republican Senators.

If the Coburn amendment language is included in the final conference version of this legislation, many arts groups will be prevented from receiving economic recovery funds from any portion of this specific stimulus bill. It is clear that there is still much work to be done in the Senate and in the media about the role that nonprofit arts organizations and artists play in the nation’s economy and workforce.

Please exercise your right to have an opinion about this Anti-Arts Amendment. Go to Americans for the Arts to find out how!

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