Frank Rich tries (and mostly succeeds) in drawing a distinction between the Tea Party and the Republican Party. I keep saying that the Tea Party will destroy both traditional parties in November. I still think that will happen.
We've been fighting the good fight on Arts funding in the Virginia budget debates an still continue to do so. Here's a couple of good reads on the issue.
(Be patient, the video that leads this post sometimes takes some time to load. Thanks.)
This is has been almost a surreal week at Wayside Theatre. We've spent this week (and parts of the last two) preparing our annual grant to the Virginia Commission for the Arts, requesting general operating support for the next fiscal year. On Tuesday we hosted the regional competition for Poetry Out Loud, a competition for high schools who recite poetry, sponsored by the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
On that same day, we got word through Virginians for the Arts, a body of citizens who care about the arts in Virginia, that the Virginia House of Delegate had put through a budget package that was going to reduce the VCA funding for this next fiscal year by 50% and eliminate it entirely beginning in the summer of 2011. That would be Wayside Theatre's 50th Anniversary season should we survive that long.
That last sentence may sound like hyperbole, but it is not. We're still here at the moment and are working to be here in 2011 for season number 50, but we're doing so as ticket sales still stay lower than we'd like and funding from all sources keeps diminishing not improving.
Fortunately the Virginia Senate's version of the bill, which still makes some cuts, retains the VCA. That means we're heading for a conference where the two houses of the legislature horse trade. So more lobbying will be in order as we go forward.
As I hosted and emceed the Poetry Out Loud competition and watched these high schoolers reciting poetry after getting the news on Tuesday, I was filled with resolve to fight the good fight and also dismayed at the prospects of the fight we have ahead.
As the House debated the bill today and as I participated in media interviews and phone conversations over the last few days, I realize just how hard a fight we have here in Virginia. There is no denying that the fiscal situation of the Commonwealth is in bad shape and cuts will have to take place. No reasonable person would debate that. But eliminating the VCA "in difficult times" would essentially mean eliminating it forever. These kinds of cuts are never restored.
Listening also to many of the reasons why the cuts need to go forward also dismay me. Our new Governor has declared that increasing tourism is one of his priorities. That's great. Crippling the arts by eliminating the VCA will hurt that objective not help it. The Arts help drive tourism in Virginia, just like they do everywhere. The fact that every $1 spent on the arts means $7 spent in other segments of the economy should be an important fact, but then in these debates, facts are often left checked at the door. That 7 to 1 ratio also means jobs. And of course what is going to restore Virginia's or any other state's economy? Jobs. So, by potentially eliminating the VCA, we're headed into a downward spiral on that front as well.
The bottom line is that the numbers don't add up when it comes to potentially eliminating the VCA, so this smacks as more of a social cut than a budget reality. But then, Virginia was the first colony to ban the live performance of plays back in the 1600s. I think we ticked off the governor back then. I'd say something about history repeating itself, but then I guess I already have. But then when you're talking about reputations, currently Virginia ranks 49th when it comes to per capita arts funding. Fifty-one cents per capita is our rate (down from eighty-two cents before the economic collapse it). Our neighbor West Virginia's per capita contribution is $2.50. Virginia is also riding high as a supposedly well managed state and boasts a number one ranking for attracting businesses. Both of those ribbons of pride will be in doubt if this goes through.
These are scary times to work in the arts. But those of us who believe deeply that the arts and the stories they tell about us, our history, and our culture, are important not only to our economies but to our essence as human beings know that this is no time to quit. Without the arts, history is just dates and names. It has no context. But then as a culture and a society, we constantly prove that we prefer the easy multiple choice to the more difficult explanations of context.
We and those who understand the importance of this in Virginia will keep fighting the good fight on this. I hope you'll join us.
So the United States Postal Service needs to make some cutbacks to try and save money because less and less people are using the service. OK, I can understand that, but here is where I get confused.
At our local branch the lobby hours (when you can come in and get your mail and do other services) now begin at 10am. Our mail used to be in the box by about 9:30 or so for pickup. Now it is later. But here's the catch. The postal employees are there everyday at 8:30 just like always. But they don't put the mail out until after 10am. So, how is this saving money exactly? What are these folks doing different between 8:30am and 10:00am that they didn't used to do?
He loves snow and we have a good natured ribbing going back and forth about wanting more and not wanting more. And while the video above is pretty, romantic, and conjures feelings I'd love to have in another life or another time where snow fall doesn't threaten my livelihood, I'm reminded that in the end it all turns to this.
Wayside Theatre brings back Robbie Limon in the title role and demonstrates once again how getting it right can be, in the words of Mark Twain, the difference between “lightning bugs and lightning” Mr. Limon, a formidable musician in his own right, channels the Buddy Holly we want to know — the spirit, the voice, the passion, and the wit — and delivers a slam-dunk performance.
We're running through March 20, so come on down and dance in the aisles.
I used to do some drum circling at one time in my life. It was fun. It was cool. But I guess if you want to do some drumming without the circling bit with friends you could check out this guy's mechanical approach using a Wiimote to control everything.
First a thank you to the folks who voted for me as a Smart Pundit on Freescale's list of Top 20 Smart Mobile Device Pundits. I didn't even know this was going on, so I'm honored that some folks think highly enough of the stuff I blog about on GottaBeMobile.com. Or perhaps they were just trying to be silly. Either way, it is an honor to be included among a pretty distinguished list of folks.
My GBM colleague Sumocat blogged about this on GBM and I'm guessing my tongue and his are planted firmly in the same cheek. (Wait... that didn't come out right.) Anyway, he nailed how I feel about punditry in general and that's worth a good laugh.
So, I'll bask in whatever glory Freescale's list brings for a day at least, and then move on to some more punditry. Smart or otherwise.
After the jump you can see the list of Smart Pundits according to the folks who voted on this at Freescale.