Friday, March 13, 2009

Help Support Strong Arts in Connecticut -- a Budget Issue

Please read the following letter written by artist Mark Patnode to Connceticut Gov. Rell. And then consider sending your own letters to the governor and your Connecticut legislators.

Steve Dahlberg
International Centre for Creativity and Imagination
Willimantic, Connecticut


Governor M. Jodi Rell March 8, 2009
Executive Office of the Governor
State Capitol
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06106

Dear Governor Rell,

As the focus of much of government turns to the financial sector and the word "crisis" is foremost in the media's dialogue, it is important to remember the fundamental contribution The Arts make in our culture and to our cultural stability. Yet, in Connecticut the artistic endeavor is
being undermined.

For example, the proposed incorporation of the Commission on Culture and Tourism (CCT) into the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is not a hallmark of efficiency; but rather it is a damaging consolidation. Keep in mind, of the 50 state arts agencies; CCT is the only state arts agency to not define itself as arts-centric. No other state is making arts as inaccessible, or proposing such consolidations. Should Connecticut have the dubious distinction of taking a lead role in arts exposure reduction?

Often the arts are considered frivolous and non-essential to education. I would contend that society is measured by its art, architecture and literature. Furthermore, science and art are not mutually exclusive. You may be aware that the Mars space rover unfolded from its transport ship because the NASA engineers were familiar with origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. This is a wonderful example of the confluence of art and science. Children learn in different ways and the language of art makes that learning more accessible.

As The Constitution State, Connecticut has a distinction of leadership. As Governor, your exemplary contributions can help ensure Connecticut arts programs continue to lead. Respectfully, I suggest the following:

1. Assure the arts division will maintain staffing and funding to carry out their work.
2. Ensure the right staff are in place and available to meet the challenges.
3. Creation of a Volunteer Arts Advocacy organization, similar to Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, to maintain Connecticut Arts posture and integration.
4. Convene a forum to assess the status and needs of CCT arts programs.

Through CCT, I have been featured on the cover of the CCT Teaching Artist Directory (left), my work is displayed in Senator Lieberman's Washington, DC office as part of CCT's Art in Public Spaces program, and Senator Lieberman selected me as Connecticut's 2008 White House
Christmas Ornament Artist. I mention this, not out of self-interest or self-promotion, but to establish credibility.


Mark Patnode

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