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    Posted March 11, 2010

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New York State Arts Advocacy Day

Eastern Regional Director, Rick Berg (left) and Vice President Rebecca Kim Jordan (right) join the New York Senate's Committee of Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Chair, Jose M. Serrano (middle) at the Joint Committee Hearing on the Arts

For more NYS budget info...

On Wednesday, February 24, 2010 Eastern Regional Director Rick Berg, Vice President Rebecca Kim Jordan and Public Policy Director Rachel Laforest traveled to Albany to participate in a state-wide advocacy day for the arts.

The annual event, sponsored by NYS Arts, brought together members, leaders and staff from arts-related organizations throughout the state. The message of the day was "Hold the Line" keep funding for NYSCA level at $41.6 million in the up-coming Executive Budget.

The Equity trio met with staff from the offices of Senator Pedro Espada Jr., Senator Jeffrey Klein, Senator Diane Savino and our own Senator Liz Kruger. None sit on the Senate's Committee of Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation; the strategy for Equity was not to preach to the converted but to begin helping other Senators understand the economic impact the arts have in the state. In New York, making that argument is not that tough. The theatre/entertainment industry is one of the two main revenue engines for the city and state.

Actors' Equity was very well received but ultimately told that the cuts were going to be felt across the board, including "essential services" such as education, transportation and fire fighters. We explained that was understood but wanted to make sure it was clear that cuts to the arts mean a loss of jobs in more arenas than the arts alone. In the theatre world specifically, the loss of a theatre job has a ripple affect on the ancillary services supported by the industry. Local restaurants, hotels, cabs companies, convenience stores and a host of other businesses feel the affect.

Some 90 not-for-profit theatres located throughout New York State, and an additional 130 not-for-profits located in New York City, employ professional Equity actors. When an acting job is lost, that translates into an additional four jobs in related professions that are eliminated. Theatres employ local citizens, which translates into consumer spending and tax revenue for the community in which the theatre is located. Local businesses flourish around theatres. In addition, the theatres often use family-owned businesses for much of their supplies, whether its fabric, lumber, printing, advertising, dry cleaning, etc. Much of the set and costume construction takes place in shops throughout the state, adding more revenue into those communities.

Often times when an industry or business is able to "get by" on limited or decreased funds, it is overlooked when it comes time to replenish the coffers. When the economy is recovering the arts will need a healthy reinjection of funds not just for its own sake, but for the sake of the overall vitality and prosperity of the state.

Actors' Equity Association will continue to fight to protect and grow the arts budget in New York State and throughout the country. Arts = Jobs


The Bottom Line:

  • Local assistance (grants) funding was cut $6.5 million or 15.5% to $35,150 million.

  • NYSCA Operations budget was cut $644,000 or 10% to $4.838 million, requiring a reorganization and reduction of the NYSCA workforce by 10 positions.

Here is the link to the state budget if you want to review the text and the numbers for yourself (click on Education and the Arts in the left-hand column)

For more NYS budget info click here...

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