The burden of Wisconsin’s northern latitude winters is lightened by the quality and diversity of the performing arts groups that crisscross the state. You’d have to search hard to find a corner of the Badger State where you could not access an outstanding performing arts venue.
Unfortunately, Gov. Scott Walker’s budget is as artless as it is heartless. Not content merely with gutting healthcare and education funding, he’s also taken an ax to the arts. His budget eliminates all funding for the Wisconsin Arts Board and subsumes it beneath the Department of Tourism, which is headed by Walker crony and former beauty queen Stephanie Klett. Her experience with the arts is apparently limited to the cornet, which she played at the 1993 Miss America finals in Atlantic City.
The arts are among civilization’s proudest and most defining achievements. The tradition of government support for the arts well predates the vaunted tradition of monogamous heterosexual marriage that Walker and his ilk publicly promote with such vengeance. Yet right-wingers treat the arts as if they were as disposable as their spouses.
The performing arts do much more than entertain. They inspire and enlighten. They strengthen communities by fostering social cohesion. They stimulate debate and encourage multilayered thinking.
The arts are also an effective economic generator that puts money in local economies. Funding of the Wisconsin Arts Board represents only .013 percent of the state budget, while the arts account for 3.6 percent of total employment in the Wisconsin.
Consumers must help to offset public funding cuts to the arts by ramping up their individual support. We urge you to volunteer or contribute to arts-related nonprofit organizations in your area.
Wisconsin Gazette is proud to support the United Performing Arts Fund’s annual fundraising drive. UPAF is a nonprofit organization that supports 34 performing arts groups in southeastern Wisconsin. Together, these groups produce over 2,000 live performances of music, dance, theater and opera each year and provide arts training and education to 400,000 area youth.
To contribute, go to www.upaf.org/campaign/donation.