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Arts Advocates Write Governor - KOAM TV 7

Arts Advocates Write Governor

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Missouri Citizens for the Arts is soliciting letters from across the state to urge Governor Jay Nixon to increase funding for arts organizations.

Locally.. folks are responding.

There's about 20 hand-decorated letters piled on Comm. Arts Dir. of Connect2Culture, Emily Frankoski's desk. And there's more on the way. 

"Whenever people learn about it they like that they can do something about promoting the arts in this way," Frankoski said.

It's a small part of a state-wide effort to increase allocations for the Missouri Arts Council and partner organizations from the Non-resident Professional Athlete and Entertainers tax, which was originally established to fund arts programs in the state.

"Each year we have to inform legislators again to vote on that and to approve that funding," Exec. Dir. of Missouri Citizens for the Art, Michelle Ochonicky said.

MCA is organizing the letter-writing campaign. 

The goal is to send at least 500 letters asking 100-percent of the A&E tax revenue be given to arts organizations. Last year, of the roughly $41-million collected from the tax, about 11% went to the Arts Council. All of the unallocated went to the state's general fund. And 5 of the last 10 years arts organizations received nothing.

"They have no reserves," Ochonicky said. "At the end of this year the money set aside will be gone."

Ochonicky says even when state representatives suggest higher allocations, the tax revenue is predominantly used as a slush fund for the state budget.

"It becomes a money grab really because those funds are not specifically set aside for the arts to even use in another year," ochonicky said.

Which impacts groups throughout the state, including Joplin.

"Pro Musica, and Spiva Center for the Arts, as well as the Missouri Southern Theater Department receive money from the Missouri Arts Council," Frankoski said.

A representative for Governor Nixon said a more appropriate campaign would be focused on writing local representatives from the general assembly.

Those interested in joining the letter project can find details HERE. Connect2Culture has a goal of 100 letters collected from Joplin.

The hopes to receive all letters by the first week of November so they can be delivered in time for the budget discussion.

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