Sharpen you pencils, uncap your pens. Limber up your dialing finger. Dust off that keyboard. Sip some coffee; sharpen your mind.
It’s time to take action!
The House Appropriations Committee just began “mark-up;” an annual exercise in which they starting putting numbers into columns and next to names. We want the number next to our name to be increased by $103,000. Here’s why: The National Endowment for the Arts has increased its support to the Vermont Arts Council by $103,000. This increase requires a 1:1 state match. The Governor has suggested $13,000. We need $90,000 more from the legislature.
The Arts Council will spend $180,000 the combined state/federal increase as follows:$90,000 to support community projects associated with our “Art Fits” (Puzzles) statewide community arts project. $50,000 to restore community arts organization project grants support which had suffered cuts from previous years.$40,000 to support Local Arts Service Organization Grant Initiative.
All $180,000 of the grants we award will likewise require a 1:1 local/private match—making the leveraging effect of the legislature’s increased support to the Arts Council amount to 4:1 ($360,000:$90,000). (The remaining $26,000 will just cover administrative increases.)
Here’s how you can help.
Now is the crucial time for you to contact your state representative (with a cc to your state senator) indicating your wish for him or her to support the Arts Council’s request for “$90,000 over the Governor’s recommended increase of $13,000—or $103,000 total.
We strongly recommend you pick up the phone and leave a message for your legislator. If you are not comfortable doing this, snail mail directed to their home is next best—unless your legislator only responds to email (as some do!).
Tell your legislator a story about why the arts matter to you personally. Let them know, for example the impact that participating in “Palettes of Vermont “ had on you as an artist, or an educator, or as a member of your local community organization that participated in it. Let them know you really care about this effort. Let them know what a difference a small grant from us meant to your local community arts organization.
If you are going to email your legislator, PLEASE DO:Identify yourself as a constituentAsk if he/she is aware of the Arts Council’s request for additional funding totaling $103,000Remind him/her that the Arts Council funding request is in response to conditions placed upon it by an increase from its federal grantRemind him/her that all but about 12% of the requested increase will directly benefit communities all over Vermont, especially those that participate in Art Fits (Puzzles) with cash infusions that each will require a 1:1 match—for a total leveraging effect of 4:1.ASK HIM/HER to support the requested increase (and take note of his/her response and communicate it to me)THANK HIM/HER for doing such a hard job under such difficult economic conditions.
Cc your state senator(s)Cc me at firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE DO NOT:Copy every member of the House/Senate Appropriations Committees, especially the Chairs (they are well aware of our request)Cut and paste this message into your own email; use your own words—they are sure to sound better!Delay. Do it right now, while the inspiration is in you!
If your local representative is on the House Appropriations Committee, he/she has already heard the pitch from me, Steve Ames (River Arts), and Peggy Kannenstine (Center for Cartoon Studies).
If your representative is NOT on the House Appropriations Committee, please ask him/her to support the Arts Council’s request in two ways:By talking with their colleagues on House Appropriations about the request and asking them to support it (this needs to be done within the next couple of days!)By voting in favor of the increase when it comes to a floor vote.
One final piece of advice—
This is a very important legislation for us. Do not argue with your legislator. Just make sure he/she understands that without their support, our federal appropriations increase could be seriously at risk, and our ability to leverage the increased state funds 4:1 to benefit communities all over Vermont would be jeopardized. Take note of their response to these points and let me know what they say.
The fun is just beginning!