Save Public Funding for the Arts

Mayor Ballard voices support for arts funding; the public hearing scheduled for Sept. 8
August 11, 2008, 7:29 pm
Filed under: Public arts funding

In his budget presentation to the City County Council tonight, Mayor Ballard expressed his understanding of the link between arts funding and economic development in Indianapolis.  He reminded the Council that his budget proposal included $1 million for the arts and that, contrary to what was being said, he had no intention of eliminating the arts budget.

So what’s next?

1.  Attend the public hearing on the budget on Sept. 8.  This is your chance to voice your support through your attendance and public testimony.  More information about this hearing and other committee hearings on arts funding to come.

2.  Contact your Councilors.  Visit to find out who your City County Councilor is and let him/her know of your support for Mayor Ballard’s budget, which maintains arts funding.  Let your Councilor know that you are aware of the difficult budget year and that arts – like all other departments and programs – must share in the burden of cuts to achieve a balanced budget.  But also voice your concern about the Council’s earlier statement about zeroing out arts funding over the next three years. Ask your Councilor to reject that as an option.

3. Encourage others to voice their support for the arts.  This site will remain active through the budget process, which goes through Sept. 22.  I have sent copies of the comments to date to all Councilors and to the Mayor’s office.  Since they are aware of the site, your continued votes of support are important.

4. Finally, know your facts. The best advocates are the ones that deal in facts, not rumors or deliberate misdirection.  There are still some misperceptions out there about how the City Council’s arts funding is used.  Visit for more information. Check out a past Arts Council annual report to see the list of organizations that receive funding.  Go to and review the budget information available. 

Thanks to everyone for their comments and votes of support for the arts and arts funding.


10 Comments so far
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This is an excellent response blog to a very important kind of public debate that comes up repeatedly when Indiana Local Government Councils assume their annual budget session duties.

Kudos to the engaged citizens who rallied around the Indy Arts funding issues to champion the wisdom of maintaining funding for the aspects of public life that make a place a good, safe, and happy place to be.

I blogged a bit about the “false dichotomies” approach to discussing fiscal issues that tends to prevail among fiscal officers—in my opinion that is a misguided strategy that elected officials vested with budgeting often resort to for prioritizing and talking down to constituents. Very disappointing when it happens. Time constraints and laziness are often driving forces at play in budget hearings–not to mention elected officials who are prone to pandering to taxaphobic constituents.

Comment by Sophia Travis

Relying on the government to to provide the city with arts is
misguided. The government should never support artists and if it does all the artist’s works become propaganda despite the subject matter. I’m glad Indianapolis is ridding itself of public art funding. Now local artists can truly express themselves.

Comment by benjamin sochar

Many countries (Canada, Holland) support artists fiscally. The result is a serious art scene that does more than feed the market. The art is critical and important, the kind that people will remember in 100 years. Santa Fe New Mexico has an “arts” sales tax. Why not create one similar to this just in time for the super bowl. I see we are getting rid of the “no liquor law on Sunday” for 2012. Why dont we put a tax on Sunday purchases for the artists. The city wants to make this a place for artists, IF they cut the funding they can say goodbye to that idea. What we really need to generate national support is an artist residency similar to the Kohler arts foundation.

Comment by Lauren Zoll

As soon as the city has money to pay for all the essentials, then yeah, give some to the arts.

Until then, perhaps you should start a fundraising to make up the balance. If it’s so important, there should be tons of people willing to shell out a few bucks. That’s how the ‘cultural trail’ downtown has been funded.

Comment by Gary Henderson

To characterize the arts as non-essential is short sighted at best. There are countless “economic development” dollars spent, even in this budget. $1.5 million is small potatoes with a very big return. Football alone will not make Indianapolis an attractive city to a high-end workforce.

Comment by Michael Platt

Art is the good soil needed to build the roots of the community.

Every politician that is voting on this needs to think about where Mass Ave would be without the arts. Mass Ave 15, 10, and 5 years ago were completely different, it has only gotten better with investment that wouldn’t have happened WITHOUT the arts.

Comment by Matthew Eickhoff

Dear Mayor Ballard, Councilor Susie Day, and the City-County Council,
As a life long professional in the arts I have witnessed and worked for the city’s transformation through the decades. Community arts are vital to crime prevention. I worked with youth on probation in public arts programs. Our program had a 2% recidivism rate compared to all other probation programs that had well over 50% recidivism rates. In another public arts project, the presence of the Dream Wall mural (and the community involvement that was part of the process of it’s creation) at 40th & Boulevard was documented by the Indianapolis Police Department to have dramatically reduced crime in a neighborhood that had previously been recognized as the highest drug trafficking corner in the city. There are many more examples of community revitalization and community arts crime prevention that I could reference. Our city needs more of such funding to build strong communities and reduce crime. Prevention is highly important and cost effective. Energy will go one way or the other, creative or destructive. Community arts are one of the greatest deterrents to crime that a city can have. New York City is an excellent example and a model to follow. Arts funding is a vital part of ensuring public safety. We should study this carefully and focus funding into the most effective means for prevention and safeguarding our city’s future.

Comment by Carol Tharp-Perrin

You woudl not be the Mayor of such a GREAT city, if it were not for the ARTS and the Parks Dept.
Darala Barnett

Comment by Darala Barnett

cut something else!! the arts are the life and blood of Indianapolis’s youth, who are in turn our future leaders.

Comment by mike ashley

Lisa Sirkin and her company, Gracie Communications, started this web blog. Both Lisa and her company reside in Hamilton county.

Lisa Sirkin does not pay Marion county taxes, she pays Hamilton county taxes.

However, Lisa Sirkin does get paid by the big well funded arts institutions who are getting Marion county tax dollars. Most of them are clients of her communcations firm.

Lisa Sirkin has absolutely no say in what happens in Marion county government. If she wants to have a say in our city, she needs to pack up and move here and pay our tax bills.

You don’t Marion county folks at Hamilton county city council meetings or launching blogs trying to tell Hamilton county how to spend its tax revenue, do you?

Don’t fall for the hysteria she started.

I am the tax activist who led the 2007 property tax protests you saw on the news nearly every week last summer. I am also presenting property tax repeal solutions to the Indiana Senate in September with other activists who have VOLUNTEERED countless hours to our city and state without pay.

I am also an art collector and have produced art events including a huge arts ball in 2004 that drew international art entries, guests from both coasts, provided entertainment on three floors of a national historic landmark, and gave $1000 in prizes to two LOCAL artists. I did this without public funding or arts council PR. I know a whole lot about what I’m talking about.

I combed every detail of the arts council’s IRS financial statement and found some disturbing information that points to self dealing of our money by arts insiders…some of whom don’t live in Marion county.

Read HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAXATION to learn the truth about how who gets your arts dollars and why they started the hysteria and want you to believe the lie that there will be no art in Indy with Marion county tax dollars.

Comment by Melyssa

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