Arizona Arts Advocates Building Effort For Governor To Include Arizona Commission On Arts Allocation

Arizona Arts Advocates Building Effort For Governor To Include Arizona Commission On Arts Allocation

Arizona arts supporters are mounting an advocacy effort to persuade Governor Doug Ducey to put an allocation of $2.3 million for the Arizona Commission on the Arts in his Executive Budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2020.

Advocates also are asking that the money come from the state's General Fund budget or another permanent source of year-to-year funding. This would be in contrast to how the Arts Commission has been funded for five of the last six years, when dollars were allocated on a one-time yearly basis from interest earned on the state Budget Stabilization Fund (also known as the Rainy Day Fund).

The allocations have required legislative action each year, leaving the 52-year-old Arts Commission, uncertain about how much money it would have to administer grant programs and other services under state statute.

"We were pleased last year that the Fiscal Year 2019 budget negotiated by the Governor and the State Legislature included $2 million for the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Those funds were allocated directly to programs that are expanding the community and economic contributions of arts and culture organizations in more communities than ever across the state," said Catherine "Rusty" Foley, executive director of Arizona Citizens for the Arts. "We would like to see those gains preserved. To do so, we think it just makes good business sense for the Commission to have a stable and sustainable budget it can depend on."

Foley said allocating dollars from interest earned on the Rainy Day was a useful solution when the state budget was recovering from the recession. "However, we believe the state's balance sheet is strong enough, and the Arts Commission's work is important enough, that it's time to return to funding the agency in a more traditional manner from dependable sources."

Currently, funding is being delivered to 12 of Arizona's counties. The Commission requires grantees prove fiscal responsibility and measurable impact. "As a result, not only is there more equity and geographic parity to the program, the return on investment is higher than ever," Foley said.

A $2.3 million allocation will provide for level funding of Arts Commission programs, and also will help replace dollars that have been lost this year from receipts from the Arizona Arts Trust, she said.

"Over the last six months, funds from the Arts Trust, administered by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) and disbursed from fees paid when corporations file their annual reports, have fallen dramatically," Foley added. "The Commission, the ACC and the Governor's Office are investigating the cause. However, the volatility of the Arts Trust further illustrates the need for the Arts Commission to another secure funding source."

Arizona Citizens for the Arts has addressed its request for funding to the Governor's Office and is asking advocates to contact the Governor and request the budget allocation, as well as to share the importance of the Arts Commission to their local communities.

Advocates also will be sharing the details of the budget request and the need for Arts Commission support during Arts Congress when hundreds of arts and culture advocates, educators, business people and arts patrons from across the state gather January 22 at the state Capitol.

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