Tucson City Manager Richard Miranda submitted a revised recommended budget for FY '15 today, and he's had a change of heart about the Tucson Pima Arts Council,. We like to think he did it because there was such a swift and loud protest from the art community - artists and art lovers.
He's recommending a budget of $350,000 for the arts agency. Now, that's not great — $50,000 less than this year. BUT ... it's a much better figure than the $100,000 Miranda initially recommended.
Consider this: The agency, funded by both the city and county, had a budget of $828,230 in 2007.
And this: The arts have very practical reasons for existing — they are key to economic development and attracting business to the Old Pueblo, they play an important role in education (and the wonderful Opening Minds Through the Arts has documented that), and contribute to the quality of our life here.
And there there is this: The arts speak to who we are, what is important to us. They elevate us. They provoke us. They spark conversation. They spark introspection. They are an essential element to a community that cares about its children, its soul, its livability.
Imagine Florence, Italy without its art. Greece without its art. Mexico City without its art. Washington D.C. without its art. St. Petersburg without its art. London without its art.
None of them would be the same. Nor would we.
$350,000 is a pittance compared to what we ought to be spending in an area of around 1 million.
But it's better than $100,000.
The City Council meeting this week is 5 p.m. Wednesday. The budget is expected to be adopted at the May 20 meeting. Say your piece often and loudly.