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Saturday, August 02, 2008 
ballard to eliminate arts funding
abdul hinted at it a few days ago, and the ibj confirms it: mayor ballard doesn't so much plan to cut arts funding as to eviscerate it. over the next three years, he plans to slash the arts budget from a paltry $1.5 million to the paltriest number of all: zero dollars. similarly, he wants to slash the city's parks budget by 13 percent.

where is the $70 million in "fluff" that ballard promised would be so easy to find? apparently, to mayor ballard, arts and parks—the kinds of stuff that make indy a pleasant place to live—are no more than fluff to be excised. ballard went to the statehouse and begged them to institute the governor's property tax plan, knowing in advance that it would force local governments throughout the state to make massive budget cuts... and these are the kinds of cuts he had in mind?

the city's cultural leaders—who have suspected cuts would be coming since ballard's election—are dismayed:

"We obviously all recognize there are going to be cuts he needs to make," said Glen Kwok, executive director of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. "But what was outlined to us was not reasonable. To have a three-year phase-out program to zero was completely unfathomable."


"There are few line items in the budget with such a good rate of return," said Kwok of the International Violin Competition. "And if public safety is truly at the top of the mayor's agenda, which I know it is, one must consider the long-term impact on today’s youth."

Since he took office, Ballard has noted cultural leaders' concerns, and pledged to assist them wherever possible, particularly from the bully pulpit.

But many arts leaders have remained skeptical.

"Part of the problem is, Mayor Peterson worked so hard from the beginning to establish a profile in the cultural community," said John Pickett, executive director of the Indianapolis Opera. "When he went in to help major arts organizations, his statements had much more weight than Mayor Ballard's would."

Other cities Indianapolis competes against directly—both for businesses and talent—do far more than even Peterson did to support the arts, Pickett pointed out.

Denver, for example, has a dedicated sales tax as well as a seat tax at major sporting events, which together generate $13 million for its cultural arts community annually.

mayor peterson had his flaws, but at least he had a vision for this city that i broadly agreed with. i'm not sure what kind of spartan vision the mayor has for us—other than building a chinatown on the south side, of course—but it doesn't seem like the kind of place i'd want to live. or as IUPUI's brian vargus put it:

"Oliver Wendell Holmes said taxes are the price we pay for civilization. Ballard's [idea of] civilization is some kind of Marine Corps."

The Arts funding cut should come as a surprise to nobody - it was the sole item for axing offered by the then-minority GOP Caucus of the Council during the budget discussions last year.

Those yahoos were gunning for it from the git. Pittsboro has no ballet company - Elwood has no symphony - why does Indianapolis need such fripperies? ¶

Ballard is betraying the city by proposing this cut but no one yelled any louder and protested any more than the Meridian Kessler arts community. Then they turned around and voted for Ballard as a protest. They got what they wanted so I hope they dont bitch too loud or too get what you vote for ¶

—posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:00 AM, August 03, 2008  
i don't think it's fair to conflate meridian kessler with the arts community. there are no art galleries in MK. other than clowes and the upcoming opera building, there are no performance venues in that area. and i don't think a lot of actual artists live around there either (if they can even afford it).

the real arty areas of town are broad ripple, fountain square, and massachusetts avenue. not meridian-kessler. ¶

stallio, I live downtown and what you say is correct. However, a significant amount of financial support and the political support to get the funding in the first place came with the connections of the Meridian Kessler crowd. I live in the arts district surrounded by galleries. My point was that they had the political clout to get the original funding and then when their property taxes went up, they whined and voted for Ballard and now the funding will soon be gone. ¶

—posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:55 PM, August 03, 2008  
Wilson you idiot! We're not going to lose IRT, IMA, the Symphony, or anything else because of this. There are plenty of PRIVATE foundations and individual donors to keep them running.

Not only that these organizations understand how to raise money. They don't exist because of the arts council.

What we will lose is the sight of some of Indy's arts "public servants" expensing top tier restaurant tabs and other luxuries to the taxpayers, as they decide for the people who is in their clique and who is not.

By the way, you people must think it is fine to max out all your credit cards and just barely have enough to make your interest payments, don't you?

Because that is how you want your city to live. You want us to continue to fund this charade, through borrowing, and force our children to pay the principle and interest for it well into the adult hood of their children.

Debt is for losers! ¶

—posted by Anonymous Melyssa, at 9:22 PM, August 07, 2008  
Stallio says there are no galleries in MK. Shows what he thinks he knows and doesn't about the arts scene in Indy.

There are art galleries AND artists
in Meridian Kessler.

...ever heard of Lucas Gallery at 49th and Penn? Elaine and Greg Lucas are very well respected in arts circles and their gallery does quite well.

There are a lot of artists in MK and they don't live off the taxpayers.

Dave Bond's wife, Annie, is an artist. They live in the 5000 block of Penn.

Ruth Stoner, is an incredibly talented ceramics artist who lives in one of the toniest parts of Meridian Kessler. She has an independent studio and built her own high fire gas kiln. She teaches at the Art Center part time. Her studio functions as an art gallery and her small shows are always good. She also does custom ceramic tile work for kitchen and baths. I know designers work with her sometimes. She's been featured in Indianapolis Monthly at least once.

Gayle Herrli is also an independent artist and lives in one of the nicest parts of Butler Tarkington. She has a studio equipped with low fire bisque kilns and does only low fire work. She barely keeps up with demand and shows at many juried art fairs each year.

There are more I know, but these are people I've known for years and came to mind first.

I live in Meridian Kessler, I am an art collector, and I and led the property tax protests.

There's plenty of support in this neighborhood for serious tax cuts that include the arts.

Those of us who
act like responsible grown ups with money don't spend money that isn't there to spend.

It is irresponsible to the future of the city to continue to run up this ridiculous bond debt. ¶

—posted by Anonymous Melyssa, at 9:42 PM, August 07, 2008  
oh, so there's one gallery and three artists in the neighborhood? whoopee!!! and how many galleries are on mass ave? or in fountain square? (anyway, you missed the point.)

since you're so keyed into the art community, why don't you ask your many artist friends what they think about the mayor's plan to reduce the city's art funding to zero? i'm sure they're all rejoicing about it, dancing up and down meridian street in glee over all the lost funding. please, mister mayor, take my funding away!!! ¶

St Allio....actually I am networking people who have years invested in Indy's cultural arts with city officials to look at how the city can still have "some skin in the game" and eventually cut this budget to zero.

The arts will go on and possibly might get stronger. That was the case with the big art event I produced in 2004. I didn't get funding and it made me work harder.

That arts council is not what is keeping the arts going in Indy.

We simply cannot afford to take on another dime of bond debt because our homes are literally collateral to the bond debt.

You did know that most bond debt is secured by the collateral of the taxpayers'personal real estate, didn't you? ¶

—posted by Anonymous melyssa, at 10:08 PM, August 07, 2008  

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