Save the Arts in San Jose

I received this email from the San Jose Museum of Art. Reportedly, our city is pulling from its arts budget to serve the general fund. When I consider what our city offers, including the Tech Museum, the Museum of Art, Ballet San Jose, the San Jose Repertory Theatre, Theatre in San Pedro Square, the Stage, etc, I’m absolutely disgusted by this. I propose that we fight back. Please see the email below for details, a sample letter, as well as city official’s emails. If we refuse to be silent, if we demonstrate that art has a value in our lives, perhaps we can help prevent this kind of activity in the future.

Every great work of art has two faces, one toward its own time and one toward the future, toward eternity.” Daniel Barenboim

Letter from the San Jose Museum of Art, all rights reserved:

There’s Still Time to Tell the Mayor and City Council to Preserve Funding for Arts Groups!
Many people have already stepped up to express their support for the arts in San Jose. If you haven’t done so already, there is still time to make your voice heard. The San Jose Museum of Art and its fellow arts organizations need your help and your advocacy for the arts NOW. The City’s current draft budget diverts precious dollars from the arts-grant pool—a “grab” of Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) dollars that have always been intended to directly support non-profit arts organizations in San Jose, not City staffing.You can listen to the comments of Larry Stone, county assessor, Santa Clara County, on this important issue: http://www.youtube.com/user/ArtsCouncilSV#p/a/u/0/hh–zUludhU

For details on the $268,000 referenced in our earlier call-to-action, see Councilman Liccardo’s budget recommendation, BD #36, available online at http://www.sanjoseca.gov/mayor/goals/budget/2010_2011BD.asp.

Please contact Mayor Chuck Reed and City council members to express your opinion this week. The Mayor’s budget recommendations will be delivered June 4, so time is of the essence.

A sample letter is attached for your use. Please email your letter to each of the City officials listed below.

Thank you for your advocacy for the arts in San Jose—we need our voices to be heard.

Stop Raiding TOT Grant Funded for the Arts
Mayor Chuck Reed
San Jose City Council Members
Debra Figone, City Manager
City of San Jose
200 East Santa Clara Street
San Jose, CA 95113
RE: Stop Raiding TOT Grant Funds Intended for the Arts

Dear Mayor Reed, City Council Members, and City Manager,

The ongoing raid on Transient Occupancy Tax Grant Funding for Arts non-profits has gone too far. City management wrongfully continues to take from this funding source to cover its General Fund shortfall. This raid is counter to the intent and spirit of the agreement with San Jose’s hoteliers and arts groups. They supported the creation of this tax to fund the arts not to make up for years of budgeting failures. This raid also amplifies the damage that our fragile arts ecosystem has already sustained due to the recession.

To paraphrase the strong sentiment expressed by Mayor Reed when responding to the State’s grab of RDA funds: this most recent raid on TOT funding for the arts is a direct reflection of San Jose’s budget failures. Taking this funding will result in the loss of jobs, the cancellation of concerts, plays, exhibitions, and festivals, and bring fewer visitors to downtown hotels and restaurants. The losses will be serious and long term for the residents and businesses of San Jose and the entire Bay Area.

While the Mayor has vehemently denounced the State’s actions, the City of San Jose is doing the same exact thing to arts funding. San Jose leadership cannot allow the TOT to be misappropriated in the same way that Sacramento has wiggled its way into the pockets of cities and their most powerful economic development tool.

Councilmember Liccardo has a part of the solution right with his recent Budget Document dated May 21, 2010, to preserve and restore $148,000 to the TOT grant funds for 2010-2011 and $120,000 for the Arts Express program. We urge you to support his recommendations.

However, we expect you to go further, back to when the misappropriation of these dedicated funds started. We expect you to honor the original spirit and letter of the deal. The arts community wants full restoration of the TOT back to before these funds began to be violated. Poor precedent was set. The time to begin to fix it is now.

Sincerely,

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About bethmf

Writer, dancer, literature buff, lover of music, discoverer of new places, devotee of joy and random connections. Grateful to be here and trying to earn a space.
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