No to the Arts Council… why?

I take no pleasure in being part of a vote that denied $5,000 to the Central Sierra Arts Council (Arts Council).

The organization adds measurably to our quality of life and our economy. Originally the Arts Council had asked for $17,000, but when when it appeared that the Board was struggling with their request, it was reduced to a meager $5,000.

The Arts Council is conservative with every penny they raise. They apply for grants, members pay dues, and the executive director is also the janitor. The request would not have contributed significantly to the organization’s already modest budget, but would have signalled that the county values and goes beyond symbolic support for the Arts Council.

They weren’t asking for much, they deserve our support. But I still could not vote yes. Here’s why…

I’m concerned about the potential local impacts of the now-estimated $20 billion state budget shortfall. Conservative fiscal management in Tuolumne County has allowed us to be positioned well to weather short term consequences (the remainder of this fiscal year), but the state’s crisis will likely be long term (multiple years).

Several months ago I voted against raises for county elected officials (the Board has not taken a raise for a number of years although it approved raises for other elected officials) and staff this year and next, even though all of them work incredibly hard to provide services with inadequate funding. Those no votes brought me no pleasure either.

I voted no on the Arts Council’s request because I simply can’t vote against the people who work hard for the county to carry out the Board’s policies and provide services to you and then support an organization outside the county.

These are tough times and getting tougher.

I am a member of the Arts Council and believe it is an integral part of creating and maintaining our quality of life and a thriving local economy. How I wish I could have done otherwise.

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I like going places: out West, west of the West, and all the way around the back of the globe to the East. I like to go by train, plane, automobile, horseback. Whatever. And I like writing about what I see, feel, hear, smell, and touch all along the way and once I get there.

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