Your vote could restore arts funding

May 19th, 2014

On Wednesday, May 7 members of Atlanta’s arts community met with Commissioner John Eaves at 7Stages. There was lots of energy in the room and renewed commitment to the future of the arts in Fulton County. But, there is also one immediate action step. We discovered that night that another budget cut is on the table.

The Fulton County Arts and Culture Contracts for Service budget is on the cutting board May 21, and we need everyone in the arts community to speak directly to your commissioner to avoid these aggressive cuts. Right now, the county manager is proposing to cut the contracts for service budgets from $1.5 million to $750,000. This is an initiative being put forth by the county manager to the Commissioners.  The Board of Commissioners will vote on this cut on Wednesday, May 21.

Our Commissioners need to hear from us BEFORE May 21 AND we need to be present at the meeting on May 21. We cannot allow this to happen without speaking up.

Here is what you can do before May 21 to help stop these cuts:

  1. Meet in person or by phone with your commissioner BEFORE MAY 21. Chairman Eaves urged us to get face time (not just email) with each of the commissioners about supporting the arts in Fulton County and about this specific proposed cut.  Joan Garner and John Eaves will be in our court on this, but all of the others need our focused advocacy efforts.
  2. Emails  – Emails are good, but in John Eaves words, “emails are more anonymous” and easier to ignore than a face-to-face meeting.
  3.  Donate to your commissioner’s campaign – ideally to all who are running for office in your district.  Every small amount helps to amplify the arts community’s voice. The primary election is May 20.
  4. Attend the Fulton County Board of Commissioners meeting on May 21 at 10 AM.

If you get a meeting by phone or in person with your commissioner, it is also important to stress the need for the county manager to hire a permanent, visionary Director of the Department of Arts and Culture. Without this permanent, visionary leadership, we cannot move forward as an arts community.

It is imperative that the arts community in Fulton County stands as a united front, and every effort will be helpful.

The biggest take away from the conversation last night was the importance of consistently communicating the impact of the arts community to the commissioners.

Moving forward, we will be organizing a coordinated effort to have arts speakers at EVERY commission meeting and Budget Hearing from now on.   Look for more on that soon. Persistence, patience and consistency of message is our goal – the arts are a proactive partner for economic development, quality of life, youth development and social good in Fulton County.