Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another Dear John Letter

Dear John xxxxxxx,
I just saw your report on the protest of the stimulus bill and it is clear that you do not have all the information you need to represent some the issues involved. I heard you name the NEA, not once, but twice as "pork" on behalf of yourself and energy officials. I am more than dismayed.

On behalf of the many artists that I know, I want to ask why our mortgages, our well being, is any less important to the health of this country, this state than anyone else? I am weary of this notion that artists are just playing in the sandbox, twiddling our thumbs. Not only do I produce art objects and supplies, but I teach Art History and Art Appreciation at the local college. Historically, civilizations are measured by the quality of life and their cultural production.

In my small town of Monte Vista, population 5000, I have a list of 60 artists, most of which have sales tax licenses. Are these people not worthy of economic consideration?

Additionally, did you know that people who visit Colorado for arts and culture spend 37% more money than those who patronize the sports industry? Are you aware of the study released last week that names Arts and Culture as the fifth largest employer in Colorado? Another study by the Colorado Council on the Arts showed "a correlation between arts and learning, revealing schools with more art programs had higher proficiency in writing, reading and science."

Last week, in arguing for the $50 million in arts money on the House floor on Friday, Congressman David Obey shared similar points. Arts workers, he said, have 12.5 percent unemployment: “Are you suggesting that somehow if you work in that field, it isn’t real when you lose your job, your mortgage or your health insurance? We’re trying to treat people who work in the arts the same way as anybody else.”

$50 million works out to be .005% of the stimulus bill. It is disingenuous to say that this money is wasted.

I realize you were covering the opposition position. I simply wish you had gone with information needed to ask truly interesting, investigative questions. By not doing so, you perpetuate the myth that arts and culture is a frivolous pursuit. In this letter, I have included several URLS that direct one to the information that I have presented. I hope you find them interesting.

Laura Murphy
Monte Vista, CO





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