Dunleavy eliminates statewide programs for the arts

On his list of dubious achievements, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s veto of $2.8 million for arts programs merits a prominent place. Getting rid of the Alaska State Council on the Arts would also eliminate the ability of the agency to collect more than $1 million from other sources.

As a candidate, Dunleavy never mentioned this plan.

Here is a statement that Charlotte Fox, executive director of the council from 2001-2012, sent me Saturday:

The Alaska State Council on the Arts (ASCA), a public corporation of the State of Alaska which has served since 1967 as Alaska’s state arts agency, has had all of its funding line-item vetoed by Gov. Dunleavy.

Unless this veto is overridden by the legislature, the following major programs will not be funded, the offices will be closed and the four employees terminated.

This is the only state agency whose funding has been completely eliminated. The proposed state general fund allocation for fiscal year 2020 for the arts council is a little over $700,000. This is $100,000 more than the agency received from the state in fiscal year 2007, thirteen years ago.

Major program areas which will cease to exist July 1 include:

Grants to artists and arts organizations. Grants to artists and arts and culture organizations throughout Alaska will be cancelled. These small grants provide funding for everything from individual artist projects to major institutions, from small community organizations like the Sheldon Museum and Culture Center in Haines to the Fairbanks Symphony. For many arts and culture organizations in rural Alaska, these grants are the cornerstone of their annual small budgets

Arts Education. This includes the flagship Artist in Schools program, which has provided artists and students with unique arts learning opportunities throughout the state since 1969.

Visual Arts. The Alaska Contemporary Art Bank, a unique partnership with Alaska artists and state agencies, purchases art from Alaska artists and loans the art to agencies around the state, including the Governor’s office and the Alaska Court system. Over 400 pieces of art will be recalled and deaccessioned. Also, the Percent for Art program which commissions public art for state buildings.

Literary Arts. The Alaska State Writer program, currently a partnership program with the Alaska Humanities Forum. Also eliminated will be Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation competition among high school students in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Native Arts. The Alaska Silver Hand program, which means that Alaska Native Artists will no longer be able display the Silver Hand Seal to prove the authenticity of their artistic products. This is a highly recognized program which strengthens Alaskans’ position in the competitive art marketplace.

In addition to the program areas listed above, the Alaska State Council on the Arts partners with private foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts to extend their reach into Alaska far beyond what the state funding provides. One example is Creative Forces, a collaborative program of ASCA, the US Department of Defense, and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which provides healing art therapy to servicemen and servicewomen with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) will end.

The repercussions of this veto will be felt throughout communities in Alaska. If you have been involved with the State Arts Council, or impacted by the programs of this small but highly influential state agency, you are encouraged to contact your legislator and voice your opinion now.

Dermot Cole10 Comments