The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council has called off a planned April 26 bus trip to Harrisburg to rally for more state funding for the arts. But there's both good news and bad news about why.
The good news is that Gov. Rendell's proposed 2010-11 budget includes $10 million for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. That's better than the $9.5 million the PCA is current working with.
The bad news is that the proposed funding is even lower than the $11 million originally allocated for the PCA in the 2009 budget, before a mid-fiscal-year spending freeze. And it's down from $15 million the PCA was getting just two years ago, says GPAC executive director Mitch Swain.
Still, the April 26 rally was canceled last Friday after Swain and other board members of statewide advocacy group Citizens for the Arts met in York, Pa. Board members noted that the state House has passed a budget that kept Rendell's $10 million nut for the PCA intact.
"We'd all be very happy if we could get $10 million in light of economic conditions and the budget challenge the state faces," says Swain.
PCA funding accounts for just a sliver of most nonprofit arts groups' operating funds. But advocates like the GPAC went into high gear last year when the Republican-controlled Senate's original proposed 2009 budget zeroed out PCA funding altogether: The money is spread across a broad swath of such groups, and has a good deal of symbolic significance as well.
Now the Senate becomes the battleground for Rendell's new budget. In lieu of a single rally, Swain says, arts advocates are planning individual lobbying visits to senators' offices in their home districts.