Save Public Funding for the Arts

Does the public support public funding for art?
August 4, 2008, 6:13 pm
Filed under: Public arts funding | Tags:

(Editor’s Update: Thanks Jason, for being better at math than I am.  $1.5 million is 0.1% of the total city budget.  Fortunately, 1,000 signatures also would be 0.1% of the population so the concept still works. Although if we could get to 10,000 signatures…)

According to the IBJ and other sources, Indianapolis’ arts funding is in for a great big hit – down to zero in the next three years.  For a world-class city such as Indianapolis, I find this unacceptable. 

City funding for the arts is largely symbolic; $1.5 million out of a $1.2 BILLION-dollar budget in 2008 (yep, that equals 1% for the arts).  But it still is an important symbol of all that is important, or should be, to Indianapolis.  The arts represent diversity. Education. Thoughfulness. Creativity. Enrichment. Dialogue and debate.  The arts make us think. The arts make us laugh, cry and shout out in protest. Some, like the Arts Council of Indianapolis, can point to studies that link the arts with increased graduation rates and decreased crime.  

Whatever your relationship is with the arts, now is the time to support it.  Do you agree that the city should maintain arts funding at its current level as a demonstration to corporate and other civic leaders that the arts are not only an important part of Indianapolis’ public personality but also contribute to educating and enriching the lives of our citizens, even the most vunerable ones? 

This Web site is dedicated to collecting 1,000 supporting votes for maintaining public arts funding.  Yep, that’s roughly 1% of the Greater Indianapolis population – the same percentage as what the city provides to the arts.  If 1% of Indy residents can speak up for the arts, perhaps the city leaders can allocate 1% of its funding for a different kind of public safety – the proactively safe, alternative to hanging out, educational arts and culture. 

If you vote, I promise to send the responses to our City County Councilors and to Mayor Ballard.  This site will be up until the August 11 budget hearings.  Let’s see how far we get.


67 Comments so far
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Arts education improves academic performance. In a study published in March of this year, researchers at University of Oregon correlated training in performing and visual arts to improved cognitive thinking, attention, and motivation. What Indianapolis needs is more of this, and the IPS graduation rate proves it. If you want to talk about a way that our community’s leaders can RADICALLY transform our educational achievement, then an even bigger investment in the arts would be one important way.

Comment by Andrea Fagan

How can we let the children and community of Indianapolis down like this. The formal education they receive is minimal at least lets try to support some of the informal learning that goes on…..

Comment by Cathryn Ferree

I’m continually shocked by what this state and city feel is important to fund and what totally falls short of their radar. The only reason that the city would decide to forfeit all funding seems pretty simple — they don’t take pride in the city as a whole. If they did, they would understand the positive impact that the arts can have on everyone in our community.

Comment by Nicole Halper

The arts organization I support, Storytelling Arts of Indiana is directly involved with nurturing good citizens, reaching out to disadvantaged youth throughout the Indianapolis area. We provide them with a life-skill for expressing their human experience in healthy ways through storytelling activities in the classroom (that meet state standards, too!)and performances. Our programming provides them with avenues for experiencing healthy relationships, resolving conflict peacefully, and being powerful through words. Without funding from the city, our programming for disadvantaged youth will not be possible. Imagine the consequences we as Indianapolis citizens will be contributing to if our tax dollars do not support this art!

Comment by Marcia Baker

History teaches us the importance of the arts, look at the priceless paintings, artifacts, sculptures, and manuscripts in the world’s museums. Right in our own backyard we house wonderful exhibits that benefit the citizens of our city and ehnance the image we portray to the rest of the nation. I can’t imagine a world without beauty. Funding for the arts is critical. Continue (at least at the current level) the funding for the arts.

Comment by Lynn Sinex

It’s shameful that this city is so supportive of professional sports and wants to stop the pittance it contributes to the arts.

Comment by Mary M Ferree

The arts are vital to the education and enrichment of our youth and community, and play a huge part in attracting visitors both local and abroad to Indianapolis. Please contiue to support funding for the arts in and around Indianapolis.

Comment by Jennifer McNabb

The arts community is the reason I moved here.

Comment by Ryan Ralph

The arts are incredibly important to any thriving city. Public safety is incredibly important, too. However, even if we have the safest city in the world, it won’t be a great city if we don’t have arts and other forms of entertainmebnt. Surely we can walk and chew gum at the same time. Let’s have a safe AND culturally diverse and arts-rich city.

Comment by Greg Kueterman

The integrity of the Council is important to its constituency. Are the arts used to promote Indianapolis as an outstanding place to visit, hold conferences, and start or relocate businesses? I thought so.

Comment by Ginger Plexico

I support continued city funding for the arts.

Comment by June Lyle

We need bread, but roses too. Please continue funding the Arts in Indianapolis.

Comment by Martin DeAgostino

A strong and vibrant arts community is a necessity to any great community. Even if a kind benefactor were to step up to the plate and replace the city’s cuts, it still sends a strong message to the people both here and across the country that our Mayor does not value the arts as an integral and important part of our lives.

Comment by Sandy Wagner

I am equally saddened, enraged and insulted at the choices that our city continues to make regarding public support for the arts.

We show little hesitation or roadblock to greenlight and subsidize corporate-branded monuments to capitalism and greed that pollute our city’s skyline with lit-up logos, meanwhile artistic expression of any kind is relegated to street corners and nightclubs and made to scrounge for change.

Eliminating the entire publicly-funded budget for the arts further confuses Indianapolis’ already questioned cultural indentity.

That might be a healthy compromise when the bottom line is merely a number, but where a city is concerned, its citizens and the collective color created, valued and admired by them is a part of that bottom line as well.

Comment by Tim Wilsbach

Well, if we’re just an oversized cowtown with out-of control sports figures and loud cars driving in circles(when the tires aren’t flat), we don’t need arts funding. Personally, I would deeply regret having the arts funding cut from the budget.

Comment by Kevin Kennedy

I am mad as hell about these sports driven decision makers!! All Hoosiers, young and old alike, need an artistic outlet!!

Comment by Lisa Terry

“Quality of life” becomes an oxymoron if there are no arts in a community and there will be no arts in the community without public and private support. It is absolutely essential that the city step up with continued arts funding if we are to have Quality of Life. Indianapolis is already woefully behind other cities of the same size in funding of the arts and to think it might be cut further is shameful.

Comment by Mark Varnau

Arts Funding please. Also, 1.5 million of 1.2 Billion equals .1% not 1%.

Comment by Jason

Arts—to be a well-rounded person who has sensitivity to CREATIVITY among our citizens is a cherished characteristic of each of us

Comment by JOAN GREEN

Without arts related activities for all ages, we might as well hang a sign over Indianapolis or our entire country for that matter, and call it Bedlam. Not only do these programs enrich our culture but they prevent a certain degree of insanity! There need not be a strong debate over this! everyone knows the value of the visual and performing arts, it is just too heartbreaking to think of our world without it.

Comment by Jen Grove

Arts are important for everyone! What about our children/students who are artistic and musical? Let’s show support to them too.

Comment by Rachel

I hope that the City of Indianapolis, to which I pay taxes and have called my home for my entire life, can decide to continue to support the arts. We may not all agree on standards of quality art, but we can all imagine the dreariness that could come if art vanished from our lives.

Comment by John Ping

The arts are key for the vitality of the city. Absolutely critical for attracting and retaining folks to the city.

Comment by Trevor Belden

I am a lover of sport. I love the colts. I think it is awesome that we have The NCAA Hall of Champions in our back yard. However, if you wanna see an example of a city that doesn’t understand the balance between cultural enrichment and satiating sports fanatics, look no further than Detroit. That could easily be us…again.

Comment by Neal Brown

I voted for Greg Ballard because Bart Peterson wanted to kill my dog. I didn’t vote for this. The emphasis on public safety is fine, but the police are helpless to prevent crimes, in particular homocides, that are the result of the very sort of hoplessness and despair that the arts help fight. Remove all public funding for the arts in Indidnapolis and it won’t do anything but make a city that was getting better, worse. It will also surely result in Ballard’s removal from office after one term.

Comment by Stan Denski

As a retired 2nd grade teacher I know how important the arts are in educating the whole individual. Not everyone has a talent for playing basketball or reciting the times tables. Nearly all of my students who were involved in the arts (i.e. violin lessons, dance class, drawing or painting,) were in the top third of their class. Why would we take away their support in our city? Why do we want such a stale city?

Comment by Greg Wagoner

The Indianapolis I know today is a far cry from its sleepier self of 25 years ago. Its growth, renewal and cultural vitality has made it the envy of many neighboring Midwestern cities.

How can we, as a rising city, turn our back on the arts?

Without proper arts funding, Indianapolis is in danger of again becoming an incomplete city.

Cutting the arts from the budget is not cutting an extra pound of flesh. It is cutting out the city’s heart.

Comment by Karen Land

Cities of the 21st Century will rely on intellectual capital to thrive, or even survive. If Indy is to be a success story, the type of creative thinking that the arts engender will be critical.

Cutting funding for arts – especially the miniscule amount the figure represents in the overall budget – is not creative thinking, it’s unthinking action.

Comment by Donna Sink

Indianapolis cannot turn its back on the arts. I feel as though we are a well-rounded city with lots of opportunities because of the arts. We have to raise the next generation with open-mindedness and creativity that the arts inspire.

Comment by Michelle

The arts are very important to the economic future of Indy. The city council does not seem to understand this fact. If you cut arts funding then you are actually cuting off a very important part of your citys future. The arts causes people to spend money in so many other areas. I will support any effort to save the funding for the artts.

Comment by Mark Pack

How can we say we are one of the best cities in the country and not create a well balanced community where citizen have a creative outlet??? How can we continue to find funding for private company gains and slow the drain to a trickle when it come to important public programs??? How do we spend millions to bring the “SuperBowl” and yet we don’t have funds for the future of the city??? The SuperBowl is a one week event at best, the arts are for a lifetime….

Comment by James

It has always been easy to cut arts funding. We’ve seen it in the schools, as well. The sadness I felt when Mayor Peterson lost the election comes back today as we truly experience the loss created by his departure. He understood the value…or trusted those around him who understood it.
There is room for sports and the arts…we just have to feel the arts are as important to this city as the Super Bowl. The city will realize millions from the Super Bowl…can the arts be a benefactor of a small portion of that money?
Mayor Ballard, has anyone looked for solutions elsewhere? Or is this just easy?

Comment by Suzanne Schwartz

The Arts are as important to future generations as they are to ours. How can we cut funding for any mode of communication with our children’s children? The Arts speak forever…

Comment by Kathleen Guffey

I support this effort to save public funding of the arts as well. Let’s forward on the message to our friends, family and colleagues and take a stand for this important issue!

Comment by Amber Davis

What a sad, scary day to hear that the city would cut the minimal funding for the Arts. Art is a way to teach people, young and old, different ways of thinking and problem solving. Art is very important to help with improving public safety and hence the quality of life for our citizens.
Please keep the funding for the arts!

Comment by Julie Ellison

Indiana does not want to turn out like California where Art in the classroom is nonexistant. If we loose support for public art outlets, like the Free music concerts in our city parks, and the Art Contests at the Circle, Art Classes in our schools will be next. It’s not right to treat art/music as an ‘extra’, instead of a ‘must have’ in everyone’s lives. I vote to save Indy Arts!

Comment by Jackie Smith

Yes, we must continue to fund the arts. The arts in all forms are a vital and fundamental part of every community. If Indianapolis plan on being and staying a global city, we better find a way to continue to fund the arts. Leadership starts at that top.

Comment by Anthony Ware

As an Indianapolis-native, IPS graduate, and current senior at DePauw University, I grew up surrounded by the arts. Currently, I work with children at a non-profit organization, Young Audiences of Indiana and see the importance of the arts every single day. The arts not only provide a positive creative outlet for the youth of our community, but reinforce many of our educational standards that we strive so hard to improve. Please do not cut funding for the arts in this community and stop supporting our youth!!

Comment by Lydia Maher

Back in the seventies there was a similar sentiment in the Indy City Council. At the time Ellen and I operated the Donker Srt School in Broadripple. This was BEFORE the Art League… Arts are such an intregal part of a well rounded education, the thought of removing it from the curriculum is un-thinkable! When our school was going there was no place in Indy for kids to go to kid’s art classes or grown ups to relax and try their hand at throwing a pot or making a piece of jewelry. At one point we had a waiting list of MONTHS for people wanting to sign up for art classes…. Not because Ellen and I were so great, but because the NEED for artistic expression and the NEED for creativity is just part of the human make up…. I say MORE ARTS! Not less!
There was a slogan once (somewhere in those late sixties/early seventie: “You gotta have art.” So bring on those ten thousand signatures!

Comment by Rogier Donker

make that ART School:-)

Comment by Rogier Donker

It will be a sad day in Indianapolis history when the arts receive no public funding. I am appalled that such a thing even merits suggestion.

Comment by Emma Faesi

On a recent tour of both Heaven and Hell I was surprised to find people in each place trying to eat meals using only three foot long chopsticks. Naturally not one skinny, struggling diner in Hell managed to get a single bite into his or her greedy mouth, while the folks in Heaven were able to eat all they wanted – for the simple reason that they had the good sense to feed each other.

The inspiration and beauty and enrichment that are produced by the Arts community of this city ‘feed’ people’s souls everyday. The Arts are just as necessary as safe streets and sporting entertainment.

Now I know which place I’d like to go for a return visit when I die. But while I’m still living, here in this city where I’ve lived all my life, will we have the good sense to feed each other? Or not.

Bob Sander

Comment by Bob Sander

This is just another column knocked out from the foundation that holds this great city up. More power to those that stand up for what is important. We will no longer be stepped on, looked over or disregarded as an expendable line item on a skewed budget. Viva La Indy Arts!

Comment by Kevin Smola

To Mayor Ballard and the City-County Council:
The positive difference in the climate of our city because of expanded arts opportunities for all segments of our community (children, tourists, business people, the elderly, homemakers, lawmakers and law enforcement personnel) is immeasurable. Please do not fix our economic woes on the backs of artists, arts educators, arts providers and arts audiences in Indianapolis. Please keep our city beautiful in every way. Law enforcement will be easier if we continually engage people in creative forces.

Comment by Sandy Reiberg

The unfortunate child that grows up without art will lack both imagination and tolerance for ‘different’. Considering that Indiana is (last I read) the 12th most popular state in which to live, why on earth would eliminating even MORE art funding be a good idea? Indianapolis prides itself in its attempts to grow, culturally; this decision WILL stunt our growth. Inevitably, potential visitors won’t CHOOSE to visit the area, much less move here; young people will grow up and move somewhere else; or worse, we will be forced to live with children that grow in to unimaginative, intolerant adults. Please don’t let this happen to our city and our children.

Comment by Rachael Wagoner

Jackie Nytes poses some VERY interesting questions: [would you be willing to reduce spending on public safety to keep the arts funding? Would you be willing to reduce the raises that we give the police and fire fighters in order to keep the arts funding?] I would have to say that YES I would absolutely be willing to reduce spending on public safety to keep arts funding. Especially when it comes to children. Today’s idle minds are tomorrow’s criminal element. However, I would NOT be willing to support not giving raises to firefighters and police officers to keep arts funding. These people are out in the streets dealing with today’s criminals. My $.02.

Comment by Joy Thompson

I cannot believe that we have to choose between public safety and the arts. Surely .1% of the budget it not going to make or break our police officers. Where is the other 99.9% going? We must keep arts as a priority. What a boring world without creative expression.

Comment by Christian McKinney

Indianapolis art is finally taking off. Killing it now is an option? Not for me. Save the art.

Comment by Natalie Ingle

I recently picked up an in-flight magazine and was thrilled to find an article on the very positive state of the arts in Indiana. In a state that seems to value sports above all else, this is quite an endorsement. I have to say that I felt, well, pride. Given our increasingly precarious grasp on a decent public education system, one would think that now is most defininetly NOT the time to cut support for the arts, which have been proven to enhance academic performance. Not to mention how much more attractive a city that values cultural enrichment is to businesses considering locating here. Let’s please not lose sight of the strides we HAVE made. Continue to support the arts.

Comment by Pamela Linsely

Support the Arts!

Comment by Mary F. Kelley

Support the arts

Comment by Louise Hickman

The arts has provided an energy and culture to a Midwestern city not previously respected for much beyond basketball. While I don’t have anything against basketball, Indy needs the arts — what is underway is such a great start. Don’t kill it now.

Comment by Michelle Thompson

without the arts there is nothing worth me staying in the city

Comment by Dani Norberg

Support the arts! 0_o

Comment by Kyle Spears

Even symbolic arts support is vital in ways that we can’t even begin to predict. I personally was positively affected by public and private arts support in Cincinnati at age 10. I think much of Indy’s proposed $1.5 million cuts to arts groups would affect outreach programs. Many of those are free, and involve youth that either will or will not learn to appreciate the arts. Feel free to continue this discussion on the Indianapolis Star’s A&E site:

Comment by Whitney Smith

The arts nurture and enrich our everyday existence…they inspire future generations and add to the vibrant quality of life in our community. Why bother hosting a Super Bowl event in 2012 if visitors to our city see rundown or shut-down arts venues due to lack of funding. The arts organizations are struggling enough due to the sluggish economy and sky-high gasoline prices…and cannot sustain cuts in city government’s funding support.

Comment by Brad Biyd

Art is essential to our society. Funding is a necessity.

Comment by Tisha Christian

My vote is cast to continue public funding for the arts. Granted, the property tax relief is helpful for property owners, but education is even moreso. The Arts provide nourishment for the brain.

Comment by Jane Lahr

Before we start talking about the impact on children and tax ROIs, does anybody have a list of what programs this money actually goes toward?

Comment by Stephen James

We often use the line “World Class City” to describe Indianapolis. Can anyone name even one world class city that doesn’t have at least a fledgling arts community?

Comment by Steve Moore

Support the arts! One of the main reasons I moved to Indianapolis is due to the vibrant arts community. The arts are absolutely essential to attracting and retaining young professionals.

Comment by Kristin Riccardo

I support continued city funding for the arts. I chose to keep living in the city because of the increased livability of this city over the last 10-12 years. Mayor Ballard needs to stop dreaming of china towns and international cricket tournaments and support what we have.

Comment by duncan alney

The support for the arts community is the whole reason my husband and I moved here last October. If the current administration no longer feels a need to support the arts – we, and many many others like us, will no longer feel a need to live here. Please keep Indy arts alive!!

Comment by Crista Pack

well… funding art is imprtant!!! so fuour schools need it n the oarenst dont make wnough money to pay ofr all the expenses!!

Comment by shawn paul

Please ensure that the arts are well-funded. As an art teacher I am lucky see the positive effects of art instruction in the lives of hundreds of children daily. Art is a window through which people can discover the beauty of life and fully live it in a more meaningful and fulfilling way.

The arts is a voice to communicate expressively, creatively and freely. Gifted people have a right to express their gift and use it as an outlet for their thoughts and feelings. Muting those people through a budget cut is complete ignorance. Deafening the listeners – people trying to understand life through the arts is wrong.

Without support for the arts we are clearly demonstrating a lack of faith in people of vision
who historically have advanced society and projected us forward. The arts is vision,future and a mirror of who we are and who we dream of being. Cutting the arts is like breaking that mirror. It’s like throwing a football through it or damaging with a violent weapon.

I want to look through the mirror of my society and see clearly and freely the beauty in my world.

I want to understand people through the gestures of a movement in dance, the dynamics of sound or the contour of line and intensity of color.

Arts need to be well funded and well-guided.

Comment by Tina Kimbler

I love the arts. I think we as individuals should support and enjoy the arts. But should we FORCE other taxpayers to pay for it? Should we take people’s homes (for tax debts) and use some of that money for the arts?

I think not.

I believe in the ability of artists to sell their product on the market, without the insult of a subsidy.

Comment by Timothy Maguire

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