The Norman Transcript

Editorials

January 31, 2013

Communities rally to support the arts

NORMAN — A state legislative proposal that would have eliminated $4 million in arts funding is apparently dead on arrival at the capitol. Lawmakers said Rep. Josh Cockroft’s bill has been sent to the House Rules Committee, a known graveyard for legislation that doesn’t develop traction.

State Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman, wondered aloud at a legislative breakfast Monday whether some bills are floated just to rally support among the arts community.

“I’m paranoid,” Sparks joked.

There may be some truth to that. Supporters came out of the woodwork in the past few weeks. Lawmakers statewide heard from their local arts grant recipients after House Bill 1895 became public. Mr. Cockroft’s bill would have reduced funding to the Oklahoma Arts Council by 25 percent per year for four years.

The Transcript first reported on Mr. Cockroft’s legislation and the arts community’s response earlier this month. Since then, the story has been picked up by other media outlets.

The arts funding is but a small part of the state’s approximately $7 billion budget. But it’s one that is vitally important to community arts organizations that rely on grants and donations to stay in business.

Oddly enough, the Arts Council is asking for an additional $500,000 for the fiscal year that begins in July. Maybe the constituencies that have rallied to support the arts will now focus on increasing the appropriations.

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