The following letter is from members of the Oak Park Area Arts Council’s Arts Roundtable, a committee of OPAAC member organizations that collaborate to enhance the arts in our community:
As the Illinois Legislature and Governor Rauner’s administration work through the proposed 2015-2016 budget in the coming months, many people who provide or receive important services to our community are worried about the proposed cuts.
The groups we have heard from the most in recent editorials are educational and social services organizations; this is understandable because large portions of their budgets come from government sources.
But let’s not forget the risk to funding for the arts. Arts and culture are critical threads in the fabric of our community, as in many communities throughout the state. Non-profit arts and creative organizations contribute to our quality of life in many ways. Who can imagine a society without music, dance, theater, visual arts, storytelling, architecture, museums — and so much more?
The arts build a compassionate community of creative thinkers, leaders, and lifelong learners. Arts organizations in Illinois not only provide pleasure, cultural experiences, and educational opportunities, they contribute to the prosperity of the state by employing people, attracting tourists, and creating vibrant communities where businesses want to locate.
The arts also play a significant role in promoting creativity in our schools and providing opportunity for success to students who struggle. “Musical training doesn’t just improve your ear for music; it also helps your ear for speech. That’s the takeaway from an unusual new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience” (NPR, “This is Your Brain, This is Your Brain on Music,” Sept.10, 2014).
Yet, state funding for the arts has been cut in half since 2007, to $10.1 million in 2015. This represents per capita spending of only $0.79 in Illinois, ranking us 20th nationally. Governor Rauner’s proposed budget is seeking even more cuts.
There are dozens of arts and cultural nonprofits within our borders and across the state who need our support — not just by buying tickets, attending events and making donations, but also by helping to advocate for continued (not reduced) state funding for the arts.
Please take a few moments to add your name to supporters for the arts. Go to the website for the Oak Park Area Arts Council (oakparkareaartscouncil.org) and click on the link to the petition for our state representatives and the governor.
Executive director, Oak Park Art League
Director, Academy of Movement and Music/Momenta Performing Arts Company
Anita Fillmore Kenney
Associate executive director, Momenta
Performing Arts Company
Director, Oak Park Concert Chorale
Executive director, Steckman Studio
And speaking of supporting the arts …
The Oak Park Arts District’s Third Friday Gallery Walk is this Friday. Recently, we ran a story asking the provocative question, “Is the Arts District dying?” which generated quite a response.
The doors stay open (6-9 p.m.) so arts browsers can join the “art party” on Harrison Street between Ridgeland and Austin. Enjoy dinner and then walk through the galleries, meet the artists and see what they have created. To find out what is going on in a particular gallery/business, visit them online. www.oakparkartsdistrict.com.
Hey, spring is here, the weather is (usually) good. It’s time to get out and support the arts.