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The last episode of IN Focus aired August 2013; the page below is an archive.

The WFIU/WTIU news team continues its coverage of local and regional issues
in a new weekly program, Indiana Newsdesk.

February 1, 2009  


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  • INFocus Intro and Seg 1

    Arts Funding Crisis

    Directors of Indiana area arts councils discuss the issue of budget reductions of Indiana’s art industry.

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    Headlines across the state of Indiana have highlighted the budget cuts to the arts industry. For many local arts organizations, these cuts are detrimental. Warren Baumgart, Jr., Executive Director of the Columbus Area Arts Council, explains, “We’re struggling and rallying around all the arts organizations in Columbus. Trying to figure out how we’re going to get through this time.”

    In light of the recent economic condition, the arts area is trying to figure out how to survive amidst the budget cuts. The Columbus area has already lost a major summer concert by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra at the Pops event which has been cancelled this year.

    The state level is seeing similar cuts according to Lewis Ricci, Executive Director of the Indiana Arts Commission. He explains that the public and private funds to the arts industry are both being reduced. “You’re having an amassing of a number of things that pose the threat to the traditional funding mechanism for the arts,” says Ricci.

    Sally Gaskill of the Indiana Coalition for the Arts explains that the arts must be kept in a separate arena from other government areas. “Its not an either or situation. You really can’t compare the arts to basic public services that the government is meant to provide, but we think that government should also be supporting, in a reasonable way, arts and cultural development. . .” she says.

    The arts industry has been proven to benefit education, quality of life and the economy as they entitle job creation. Baumgart states, “There has been a long history of the government investing in the arts and it has served us even today.”

    One major economic are that the arts area is essential to, is tourism. The United State’s tourism industry is one of the country’s largest exports. “It’s actually a larger export than the automotive industry and the agricultural industry. . .and cultural tourists spend much more money than normal tourists. The contribution of the arts alone to that industry is very substantial” Ricci explains, further emphasizing the influence and importance of the arts industry on the economy.

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  • INFocus Seg 2

    Arts Education

    The local Bloomington, Indiana arts market and industry is discussed.

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    The arts industry is often a popular target when it comes to cutting costs, but Chris O’Reily, NPR host of From the Top, reminds people that arts enhances minds. “The arts can be seen as an absolutely palpable resource of making the best of one’s brain matter,” he says.

    Dr. Brenda Brenner, associate professor of music at Indiana University explains that those effected by cuts in the arts include students. There is a connection of arts and education and cuts of art programs may effect other areas of education. Music programs in particular, according to Brenner, encompasses all aspects of education including language arts and math.

    For example, the violin program at Fairview Elementary school incorporated math and language skills. The program also has benefited students in other ways. Kathryn Heise, music teacher at Fairview elementary explains the results of the violin program have been good. “To see the way [the children] stand with the command of the instrument and the belief in themselves that they can actually do this. . .the self confidence and self esteem that’s risen from the kids…has been pretty cool to see,” she says. Other teachers in the school have commented that the focus of the children in the classroom has also improved.

    However, programs such as the Fairview Elementary violin program may be in danger due to recent proposed cost cuts. Sally Gaskill of the Indiana Coalition for the arts states that “it must be up to every citizen to advocate to their state legislators that it’s important to have arts in schools just as important to have funding in general for the state’s art commission.”

    The Bloomington community is fortunate to have the influence of Indiana University’s Jacob’s School of Music, which has more than one performance a day. “What the Jacob’s School provides to the city of Bloomington is amazing, but it also provides many of its graduates to communities all throughout the state of Indiana,” explains Gaskill. This ripples out to help other communities grow in their arts arenas.

    Although there are several different areas within the arts community, Gaskill explains, “they’re all so different, but they all work together.”

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  • INFocus Seg 3

    Bloomington Arts Market

    The local Bloomington, Indiana arts market and industry is discussed.

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    The arts are not always thought to create economic development, but this notion is beginning to change. Miah Michaelson, Assistant Economic Director of the Arts for the City of Bloomington, states that the arts in generate $44.5 million annually in economic impact.

    However, to view the arts as an equal partner in traditional economic development has been a challenge to some yet is beginning to take form. “I think they’re beginning to understand the value of galleries as businesses, and producing arts organizations as businesses and individual artists as small business people,” Michaelson explains.

    Bloomington has been a fortunate community for the investment of private and public art. “Bloomington has a very generous business community in supporting all types of art,” says Michaelson.

    Yet this growth and support could potentially shift in Bloomington with the state of the economy. Michaelson says, “I think we’ll see some organizations that are at risk. . . If an arts organization or an arts based business is perhaps on the edge, this might push them over.” But, Bloomington has been good in the past of managing its resources and balancing its funding. “I think the specific nature of this community means that our losses may be fewer than they would be in other communities,” she states.

    Other communities and the Bloomington community should still take measures to make sure that the arts are safe. Warren Baumgart, Jr., Executive Director of the Columbus Area Arts Council says that every Hoosier needs to let their elected officials know that the arts are important to them. “We’re not talking about entertainment here. We’re talking about the arts as an integral part of the fabric of our lives, and we can’t do without that,” he says.

    Lewis Ricci, Executive Director of the Indiana Arts Commission further explains that the arts may be imperative to helping with a solution to the economic state. “I think that during tough economic times, communities need to become stronger, because that’s where the solutions for these problems will be. . .in the creative minds. It’s a time to strengthen what we are doing in the arts community,” he concludes.

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