Posts Tagged ‘National Endowment for the Arts’

funding for public broadcasting

February 19, 2011

The House Appropriations Committee has released a Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1) to fund the federal government when the current CR expires on March 4.

The legislation includes proposed cuts of 61 billion dollars from thousands of public programs.

Early this morning the resolution passed in the House, approving the elimination of all federal support for local public television and radio stations across the nation.

I’ve worked in public radio for 26 years in various professional capacities: Program Director, Music Director, Host, Music Liaison, Assistant Music Director, Special Reporter, Board Op…and I’ve been a public radio and TV consumer for my whole life. My employment depends on the continued strong support of public broadcasting, but – even more importantly – the richness and quality of my life as an informed American does.

The radio stations I work for now receive some federal funding via the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and the immediate elimination of that funding would certainly have devastating effects. But there are public radio and TV stations around the country, especially in rural areas, that depend on that funding much more than the ones I work for. Today’s vote in the House, if also approved next in the Senate, will change the public media landscape forever in the US and create entire populations without access to the information these media services provide. Ryan Mason talks about this in his article, “Why Cutting Public Funding for PBS Harms Poor Americans More Than Rich“.

Also dependent on these federal funds are the numerous independent producers, filmmakers, journalists, researchers and public projects whose work is funded by CPB grants. Do you know about StoryCorps, the world’s largest oral history project? This, too, is a CPB-funded project. The federal funding in question goes beyond supporting only radio and television. And all of this says nothing about funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, all of which is ALSO proposed to be eliminated.

Some numbers: the United States national deficit this year is roughly $1.27-trillion. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s budget is $430 million, making it roughly .037 percent of this year’s shortfall. That amounts to a little less than $1.40 per American, with more than 70 percent of that funding going to local radio and TV stations via the CPB. The remaining 30 percent supports the kinds of projects I mention above.

In her thoughtful article, “A Fan’s Case for Ending Federal Support to Public Radio and Public TV“, Jill Lawrence makes the case for eliminating federal funding but doing it gradually as a planned effort: “The most measured approach would be to put CPB on a five- to 10-year phase-out plan, gradually reducing its budget as other means of financing are developed.” That seems a reasonable enough approach to the situation, though we must keep in mind that access to foundation, underwriting, and broad membership support (common other means through which many public TV and radio stations receive funding) are still very limited in rural and lower-income regions.

Please take some time to read the articles linked here and make your own decision about the need for federal funding of public media and public producers, projects, researchers and filmmakers.

The Senate vote on this bill is scheduled to happen during the week of February 28th. You know my viewpoint. If you decide that public media should receive continued funding please join the awareness effort at 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting.  In Vermont we full Congressional support for the federal funding of public media. That’s far from being the case in every state, so if you don’t live in Vermont and you want to send a message of support for funding public media, contact your Senators.

Other viewpoints and related articles:

The Root: “Why Black Americans Should Fight for Public Media”

Rebekah Rast: “Time to Stop Funding Luxuries, Like Public Broadcasting” (ed. note: are investigative journalism and childhood education “luxuries”?)

Laura Walker and Jaclyn Sallee: “The Argument for Funding Public Media”

170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting on facebook

poetry out loud

March 9, 2010

Late Saturday afternoon and early spring sunlight flooded the already overly warm Chapel at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Teachers, parents, siblings, and lots of onlookers had all come together to cheer on the participants in the annual Poetry Out Loud recitation competition.

Most of the audience had been there since morning, I learned, patiently listening and waiting for the results from each passing round of sem-finals. It’s not an easy process, but the experience is invaluable and the top performer advances to the national finals in Washington, DC on April 26-27, where $50,000 dollars in scholarships and school prizes will be awarded.

The idea is for students to pick a few poems from the national program’s approved list of poems, memorize them, share them in the classroom, and then move on to the statewide  – and possibly national – competition. This year’s event featured 33 students from schools around the state, all high school-aged, each one reading selections from the list.

By the time I got there in the afternoon the 12 semi-finalists had already been selected. They each read a poem, and then, in turn following a short intermission, they all read a second poem. After another intermission the judges selected five finalists, and then, the winner: Sharon Academy’s John Marshall. He recited Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussy-Cat; John Clare’s I Am!, and then finally Possible Answers to Prayer by Scott Cairns.

It was inspiring to watch the passion and investment of each student in the poems they selected. From the old man trying on scratched sunglasses in Ted Kooser’s In the Basement of the Goodwill Store to the disquieting dialogue in Ai’s Conversation, each recitation strove to embody the voice of the poem and convey the ultimate essence of its meaning.

John Marshall was selected to advance to the national finals, and he’ll also be in the Cedar Creek Room at the State House, March 17th at 4pm, for a recitation of two poems as part of Vermont’s annual Arts Advocacy Day.

Abigail Volmer, a senior at Saint Johnsbury Academy, was the runner up in this year’s competition.

Poetry Out Loud is presented by the Vermont Arts Council in partnership with the Vermont Alliance for Arts Education, the Vermont Department of Education and the Vermont Humanities Council, and sponsored by Vermont College of Fine Arts.

the sacred forest

November 14, 2009

The time and place: Saturday night at Burlington’s First Congregational Church

The artists: Banjo/pedal steel player Gordon Stone and his band, with the Senegalese choreographer Elhadji Mamadou Ba

The occasion: “The Secret Forest”, a West African dance interpretation of the worldly music from Gordon Stone’s new recording, Night Shade.

The result: Bluesy, soulful music as a backdrop for unbounded dance energy!

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