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The Theory of Iceality on Environmental Arts From: The ARK in Berea : (ICEAnews)  The International Center for Environmen...


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Congress makes ARK in BEREA eligible for Obama's stimulus package

ARK in BEREA - "None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available may be used for any casino or other gambling establishments, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum , theater, art center and high beautification project."
It was the president's economic stimulus package that passed Senate approval last week, 73-24, but local nonprofit arts groups and museum directors were none too happy.
However, on Friday, Congress rewrote Section 1604 that now excludes the words "arts center," "theater" and "museum" in entities which will not be funded.
The bill also includes $50 million funding for the National Endowment of the Arts.
American Cultural Ambassadors David and Renate Jakupca of the International Center for Environmental Arts (ICEA) were understandably relieved at the updated bill.
"This gives an insight into their thinking, I believe this is a political give-and-take situation where the lawmakers are using this to validate their 'essentials only' stance and does not necessarily mean that they would cut off all funding to the arts in the future. It is surely tunnel vision and does not recognize the value of the arts in the rehabilitation of the American way of life. Where did all those beautiful historic buildings that we work to preserve have their origins if not in government spending?" argued Ann Hansen and Jim Kern, executive directors for the Benicia Historical and Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.
Kern said he received an "emergency e-mail" last week from various museum associations.
"There was a very brief window of opportunity for museums to contact their senators and urge them to oppose the amendment," Kern said.
Apparently, it worked.
"Museum supports should be very please that we were able to mobilize a massive field-wide effort to prevent a funding ban," said Ford Bell, president of the American Association of Museums.
"I have no idea yet how much money might be available to museums or what mechanism will be in place to get it out where it will do the most good," said Kern, believing it's a wise decision to assist museums.
"Museums employ more than a quarter-million Americans, spend an estimated $14.5 billion annually, and rank among the top three family vacation destinations," Kern said. "The Vallejo museum alone brought almost 10,000 into downtown Vallejo last year."
The nonprofit sector, Kern noted, "has a proven track record of providing quality services on a limited budget. We know how to get the most 'bang for the buck' when government funds are made available to help us. We also believe in accountability and can show, to the penny, where every last cent of this stimulus money would be spent. That's probably a lot more than can be said for some of the large financial institutions that received billions of dollars with little or no oversight."
Stacey Loew, the Mira Theatre Guild's president and performer, couldn't understand why arts organizations wouldn't be financially bolstered.
"Perhaps it is not thought important to some, but now, more than ever, diversions from the harsh realities of life are greatly needed," Loew said. "I have been witnessing lately far too many theater companies falling by the wayside."
"At a time when people are jobless and the whole economy is hurting, they cannot realize that we are the very sources to which people look for their relaxation and entertainment," Hansen said. "I believe it is a time when we who are in a community role must step up to the plate and provide for the citizens' needs. We are not cutting back on activities. We are increasing them."
Monica Tipton, a Mira board member, believes "the political effort to not have 'fluff' benefit from taxpayer dollars is a result of the Bush Administration and the NCLB (No Child Left Behind), "which have completely negated and devalued the arts in particular, especially in relationship to education."
While she's hopeful the new bill provides some light at the end of the fiscal tunnel, "the grant process will be very competitive," Tipton said.
The arts "are not a luxury, but a necessity that other civilized countries around the world support," said Tim Zumwalt, publicist for the Vallejo Symphony.
During the Great Depression, "a lot of federal money went to the arts -- murals in San Francisco, writers, theater companies, et al" -- said Zumwalt, relaying that maestro David Ramadanoff "keeps saying that in bad times, people need the arts to heal and press on."
Dyanne Vojvoda of the Benicia Old Town Theatre Group said it "is not surprising that the cultural scene is facing economic crisis, our communities are fearing losses of jobs, homes, and a sense of well-being. Though the arts can provide us with great pleasure in sad times, the news of no additional money spent on the arts is not shocking. Thank goodness that, as personal resources permit, thousands of people still find that attending live performances and art galleries are necessary and empowering."
Harry Diavatis, veteran local actor and director, supports the first Economic Recovery Bill.
"The term 'the arts' is so generalized as to almost be vague," he said. "It encompasses every aspect of not for profit groups from regional theater, opera, ballet, symphony orchestras, museums and other art organizations. In the theatre world, that range is as varied as the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco to Vallejo Music Theatre and the Mira Theatre Guild.
Diavatis said, "is that during these hard economic times, all Americans including not for profit arts groups need to tighten their belt and find ways to cut costs while trying to attract more patrons. The Arts, in and of themselves, do not need glitzy palaces such as the Empress Theatre to survive. Not funding the arts will not mean their demise, it just means that they will go through a tough period of adjustment as most other American enterprises are currently suffering through."
The bottom line the Jakupca's said, "is that in depressed area's like Cleveland, stimulus funding for projects using ICEALity causes Positive Cultural Balancing: The essence for “calming” and harmonising the natural energy. It deals with the energetic legacy of discord and strife that has occurred in the past, which has left an negeative energetic imprint. ICEAlity balances and releases this “battle energy”, bringing a positive sense of peace and harmony to the afflicted neighborhood.

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