Advocacy Alert: Potential Cuts to Maryland Fine Arts Budgets

The Governor’s proposed budget for FY 2011 includes $1.163 million for grants for Fine Arts to local school systems in the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Aid to Education Budget. We are deeply grateful to the Governor given that, in an especially challenging budget year, he protected this grants funding despite needing to find $2 billion in cuts.
As reported in the news late last week, the General Assembly is under increased pressure to find more cuts to the Governor’s proposed budget.
Complete elimination of the Fine Arts grants to local school systems is on the list of recommended cuts from the legislative analyst.
The General Assembly is making these funding decisions right now. The Senate Budget and Taxation Subcommittee on Health, Education and Human Resources will be voting TODAY – March 15th, followed by votes in the full Budget and Taxation Committee as early as March 18th. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and Economic Development is scheduled to vote on March 23rd followed by the full committee vote on March 26th.
It is essential that legislators hear from citizens across the state. It only takes a few moments of your time to make a very powerful impact!!
Email and/or write to the members of these committees immediately. Their names and contact information are at the bottom of this alert.
It is important to include the reasons why arts education is important to you in your area of the state. This is especially critical in communications to representatives from your district.

Sample text:
Dear (legislator’s name):
I urge you to preserve funding of $1.163 million for Fine Arts grants in the Maryland State Department of Education Aid to Education Budget.
State funding to local school systems for arts education has been cut from the 2008 level of $2.3 million to the $1.163 million amount in the Governor’s proposed budget for FY 2011. This is almost a 50% cut from 2008.
The funds have been used for over a decade by school systems to support professional development, writing and implementation of curriculum and assessments, as well as basic program delivery. The grants have supported significant growth, important innovations and overall improvement in the quality of arts education programs.
To eliminate the remaining funding will undermine student learning in and through the arts across the state.
(Describe the impact in your own area.)
This cut coupled with cuts that are happening due to local funding decreases will mean that student access to the arts will be diminished or eliminated. If the Maryland General Assembly impacts our schools and families in this manner it would be truly devastating.
Name / affiliation as appropriate.

Background information/ key points:
In FY 07 and FY 08 funds for the grants remained constant at over $2.3 million.

During FY 2009, funding for arts education in the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) budget was cut 10% from formula-based Fine Arts Initiatives grants to local school systems. During the FY 2010 budget cycle, grants to local systems were reduced by 37%.

These cuts amounting to almost 50% were significantly damaging for fine arts education and PreK – 12 programs generally in Maryland.

Elimination of all funds would be devastating.
Education in the Arts and Arts Integration are increasingly seen as a very important strategy for education reform. Maryland has been on the cutting edge of this work and is one of the nation’s acknowledged leaders in the field. Additional cuts will undermine program improvement efforts or halt them completely, resulting in fewer high-quality opportunities for learning in and through the arts for Maryland schoolchildren.

The 2008 OpinionWorks poll of Marylanders confirms what national polls (Celinda Lake and Harris) show: the public believes that the arts are essential to the education of the whole child. Further, according to the Lake data, 89% of American voters believe that the arts are critical to prepare students to be competitive in the 21st century economy, which is increasingly reliant on an innovative, adaptable workforce with strong communication skills and high self-motivation.

The public understands what extensive research has proven: the arts improve student outcomes by many measures including student achievement. Studies such as those included in Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development, published by the Arts Education Partnership detail these findings.

Arts education in Maryland has already taken disproportionate cuts in funding. Many members of the Maryland legislature have spoken in support of arts education. It is critical that this modest funding be preserved to prevent further erosion of a vital component of our children’s education.

Senate & House
Budget & Taxation Committee (Senate)

Chair: Ulysses Currie
Vice Chair: Edward J. Kasemeyer
Nathaniel J. McFadden
David R. Brinkley
James E. DeGrange, Sr.
Donald F. Munson
George C. Edwards
Douglas J. J. Peters
Verna L. Jones
James N. Robey
Nancy J. King
J. Lowell Stoltzfus
Rona E. Kramer
Bobby A. Zirkin
Richard S. Madaleno, Jr.

Appropriations Committee (House)

Chair: Norman H. Conway
Vice Chair: James E. Proctor
Susan L. M. Aumann
Guy Guzzone
Gail H. Bates
Keith E. Haynes
Wendell R. Beitzel
Henry B. Heller
John L. Bohanan, Jr.
Mary-Dulaney James
Talmadge Branch
Adrienne A. Jones
William A. Bronrott
Murray D. Levy
Galen R. Clagett
Heather R. Mizeur
Steven J. DeBoy, Sr.
Barbara A. Robinson
Adelaide C. Eckardt
Steven R. Schuh
Tawanna P. Gaines
Theodore J. Sophocleus
Melony G. Griffith
Nancy R. Stocksdale
Ana Sol Gutierrez
John F. Wood, Jr.


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