As the federal federal stimulus legislation worked its way through Congress this past week, it bent and shifted more quickly than we at Culture Shock were able to keep up with while holding down our full-time jobs and evening arts activities. But we were monitoring events closely through Americans for the Arts, RACC's federal advocacy update page, Art Scatter and other helpful resources.
The shit hit the fan yesterday (Friday) when the U.S. Senate, during their consideration of the economic recovery bill, approved an egregious amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that stated:None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.
Unfortunately, the amendment passed by a wide vote margin of 73-24, and surprisingly included support from many high profile Senators including Chuck Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and our own Democratic Senators Wyden and Merkley.
For more background on the amendment and why it's so completley unacceptable, visit this fine article at Art Scatter. Although there is still hope that the Coburn amendment language might not be included in the final conference version of this legislation, many arts groups will be prevented from receiving economic recovery funds from any portion of this specific stimulus bill if the amendment remains intact. It is clear that there is still much work to be done in the Senate and in the media about the role that nonprofit arts organizations and artists play in the nation’s economy and workforce. So here, dear readers, is what you can do to help.
Arts advocates need to quickly contact Senators Wyden and Merkley and express our extreme disappointment in them for voting for the Coburn Amendment. We need these Senators to know that their vote would detrimentally impact nonprofit arts organizations and the jobs they support in their state. Americans for the Arts has crafted a customized message that can be sent automatically to the appropriate Senator simply by entering your zip code. (For our friends from out of state, the system will recognize if your Senator voted against the Coburn Amendment and will send them a thank you letter instead.)
[note: there is more to this post - follow the link at top and read it!]
Here are some other sites with good information about this issue.
Americans for the Arts