Star Chamber For The Arts - Your Tax Dollars At Work

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Brian Pedaci
Posts: 496
Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2006 1:17 am

Postby Brian Pedaci » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:45 pm

Do you smoke? If not, then they're not your tax dollars.

If you do, then you may consider quitting in protest, or getting your smokes from outside the county.


Bill Call
Posts: 3215
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2005 1:10 pm

Postby Bill Call » Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:26 am

Brian Pedaci wrote:Do you smoke? If not, then they're not your tax dollars.



Whose tax dollars are they?


Brian Pedaci
Posts: 496
Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2006 1:17 am

Postby Brian Pedaci » Sun Jul 13, 2008 10:07 am

Bill, I'm concerned that you're trying to draw me into some kind of rhetorical trap. It's common knowledge that the money raised by the cigarette tax approved by the voters of Cuyahoga County in 2006 funds the grants. Hence, if you're not a smoker, you're not funding the program. It'd be similar to an unemployed man complaining about how his income tax is spent.

The board meetings of the Cuyahoga Arts and Culture organization are all open to the public, so calling them a 'star chamber' is rather glib and disingenuous.

Whether or not you think that a cigarette tax is an appropriate funding vehicle for arts and culture which theoretically everyone enjoys is another conversation. I don't understand exactly what you're objecting to here. What is it specifically that irritates you:
a) that the city has institutionalized philanthropic giving, which should be an individual experience
b) that the program is administered by a board appointed by the County Commissioners
c) that the grants are decided upon by that board and not through county-wide balloting
d) something else?

Sometimes you're a real font of information, Bill. But these hit-and-run troll-ish posts disappoint me.


Bill Call
Posts: 3215
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2005 1:10 pm

9

Postby Bill Call » Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:21 pm

Brian Pedaci wrote:a) that the city has institutionalized philanthropic giving, which should be an individual experience
b) that the program is administered by a board appointed by the County Commissioners
c) that the grants are decided upon by that board and not through county-wide balloting
d) something else?

Sometimes you're a real font of information, Bill. But these hit-and-run troll-ish posts disappoint me.


Yes.

a. The arts council will spend $200 million over the next 10 years. By institutionalizing philanthropic giving you mean they use tax dollars to fund the Hungarian Friends of Scouting and music for the North Union Farmers Market.

b. The County Commissioners oversee a corrupt, bloated bureaucracy that is turning a once prosperous County into a pauper. Giving friends of the commissioners a place at the arts council table might strike you as democracy in action but it strikes me as cronyism at work.

c. If the public is going to fund the program why shouldn't the public determine how the money is spent? If its all about public support of the arts why not let the public decide?

d. Look, if the $200 million was spent to provide seed money for a new Beck Center building, a capital improvements fund for Playhouse Square or Gordon Square, or other physical assets I would be supportive (reluctantly). Ultimately what we are providing is walking around money for people involved in various face painting festivals. It's not much different than spending all of the money on fireworks for all the communities of Cuyahoga County. The next morning all that is left is the memory.

Just what does the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless have to do with funding art?

Maybe this will illustrate my point:

Lets say you had this $200 million dollars and the right to decide who was going to spend it. Would you give it to the guy that said

A. he would give $5,000 a year each year for next ten years to 8,000 arts festivals around the County or

B. he would fund a capital program for Playhouse Square, Beck Center, Gordon Square and other art and entertainment organizations.


Brian Pedaci
Posts: 496
Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2006 1:17 am

Postby Brian Pedaci » Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:27 pm

I would give it to the first of your examples. Why? Because the larger organizations have a greater capacity for fundraising and getting attention for large-ticket capital campaigns. The smaller arts and cultural organizations that run on shoestring budgets are the ones truly at risk. I'd rather have a community with hundreds of artistic and cultural outlets rather than a half a dozen richly-funded ones.

That you'd misrepresent community cultural events as "facepainting festivals" shows either a belligerent, argumentative nature or a willful ignorance. In fact, in looking over the 5 pages of grant recipients, I'm not seeing even one I could call a "face-painting festival".

Not everyone chooses or can afford to go to Playhouse Square, the Beck Center or even CPT. Increasing community awareness and participation in arts and culture is one of CAC's mission goals. One way of doing that is reaching people in many different ways. A live music event at the North Union Farmer's Market may just be as meaningful to a listener there as someone who paid $80/ticket to hear the Orchestra. Plus, it provides support for the musicians who perform there. Your "Hungarian Friends of Scouting" example is an grant to partially fund a gala performance of the Hungarian Scout Folk Ensemble at Lakewood Auditorium. Music, dance and culture - sounds like it's squarely within the mandated mission.

Each organization must be audited to prove fiscal responsibility and have a track record of success. An organization may only be the recipient of a General Operating Support fund once every three years, so there isn't the possibility of an organization subsisting solely on tax money, or organizations founded solely to reap in the windfall. Most of the big-name organizations got sizable operating-support grants in last year's round (PlayhouseSquare got 1.5M, Beck Center got 180K, Cleveland Museum of Art got 1.5M, the Orchestra got 1.8M, etc). The awards that were announced in June were only their yearly project-based support grants.

Project-based grants can be applied for each year, but must have a clearly-defined budget and funds may only be used for that project.

I'm truly curious how you would dream of instituting direct-democracy oversight and approval of grant requests.

And what I mean by "institutionalizing philanthropic giving" is taking an experience which used to be, and should be personally rewarding (that is, writing a check to the organization of your choice) and replacing that with the feeling that the money is being taken forcefully from one group and given to another. I worry that, among smokers, the urge to directly give to charitable arts organizations may be diminished as they feel they've already given their fair share. You've never admitted whether or not you smoke. Again, if you don't, it's not your money being redistributed, so I'm not sure where your indignation is coming from.

You do sort of have to resign yourself to the fact that the County voters approved this tax be put into place. There's a revenue stream and a set of mission statements. After that, it just takes a set of responsible adults to determine whether or not grant applications meet the requirements and mission of the program. No grand experiment in mass-micro-management of government programs required.


Bill Call
Posts: 3215
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2005 1:10 pm

Postby Bill Call » Fri Jul 18, 2008 7:00 am

Brian Pedaci wrote: the money is being taken forcefully from one group and given to another. I worry that, among smokers, the urge to directly give to charitable arts organizations may be diminished as they feel they've already given their fair share. You've never admitted whether or not you smoke. Again, if you don't, it's not your money being redistributed, so I'm not sure where your indignation is coming from.


That about sums it up. I used to give $100 a year to the Cleveland Art Museum but I don't anymore.

We live in a kleptocracy. In a kleptocracy the first duty of a citizen is to get a bigger piece of the action. When the Unity Center Church gets $39,000 for its after school program its just being a good citizen.

And no, I don't smoke.

I know I am on the losing side of this argument. Cuyahoga County has reached the point of no return. More and more people are simply leaving town. The majority of the people that are left think prospertity comes from the point of a gun.

I don't know if the CAC has a motto but if it doesn't I have one in mind:

Don't nobody move, this is a stick up!


Rhonda loje
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2005 10:08 pm

Postby Rhonda loje » Fri Jul 18, 2008 7:54 am

Just to clarifiy there are two type of grants that you can obtain from CAC. General Operating grants and Project Event grants. The website you listed is only the Project Event grants that were given earlier this year. The General Operating Grants were given out last year and are 3 year grants. The Project Grants are only for one year If you look at the recipients of the General Operating Grants there were many Lakewood non-profits that were given $$.

If you received a General Operating Grants you were not allowed to apply for a Project Event Grant.

The key is the non-profits have to apply first. If a non-profit does not apply there is no chance that they will receive any money. I can think of many non-profits that should have applied and for whatever reason did not. That's too bad for the City of Lakewood.

http://www.cacgrants.org/

Rhonda Loje


Bill Call
Posts: 3215
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2005 1:10 pm

t

Postby Bill Call » Fri Jul 18, 2008 8:05 am

Rhonda loje wrote:The key is the non-profits have to apply first. If a non-profit does not apply there is no chance that they will receive any money. I can think of many non-profits that should have applied and for whatever reason did not. That's too bad for the City of Lakewood.

http://www.cacgrants.org/

Rhonda Loje


Thanks Rhonda.

After school programs, library programs, the Lakewood Arts Festival etc. might also be elligible. I have no doubt that the CAC will have a positive impact on many organizations and individuals. As long as the money is going to be spent I hope some of it is spent here in Lakewood.

How about the proposed public art on Clifton or other areas in the City? Flowers along Detroit? I'm all in favor of dressing up the town.

Or: never mind I'll just get into trouble.


Rhonda loje
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2005 10:08 pm

Postby Rhonda loje » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:35 am

One of the problems is that to apply for this money..both the operating and special event you had to an established non-profit for at least 3 years.

I know some of the non-profits that you seem to refer to..ie Mainstreet and LakewoodisArt were very willing and ready to apply...but they have not been a non-profit for 3 years.

I can not speak for the Arts Festival. You will have to ask the group that runs the Festival. They do have the history behind them to apply for such a grant.
They are one of the few.

Rhonda


Rhonda loje
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2005 10:08 pm

Postby Rhonda loje » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:38 am

I think the Library was one of the only recipients of the Special Events grants that was just given out that was in the City Lakewood. (refer to your first website).

Rhonda


michael gill
Posts: 331
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:28 am
Location: lakewood

Postby michael gill » Mon Jul 21, 2008 12:43 pm

Bill:
c. If the public is going to fund the program why shouldn't the public determine how the money is spent? If its all about public support of the arts why not let the public decide?

I'd like to vote on how my tax dollars are spent, too. I'd like to vote on the war in Iraq. I'd like to vote on the construction of roads and highway interchanges. In fact, as a tax payer I help pay for Lakewood City Hall and the Ohio Governor's mansion, and the Whitehouse. And I'd like to have a say in how those places are decorated. My tax dollars pay for our state parks, so I think we ought to have public meetings and then a public vote to determine who mows the lawn. Our tax dollars pay for an awful lot of public vehicles, so I think we ought to be able to vote on the make and model, whether we know anything about cars or not. there's plenty more I'd like to vote on, but I'll stop there.


Bill Call
Posts: 3215
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2005 1:10 pm

f

Postby Bill Call » Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:35 am

michael gill wrote:Bill:
c. If the public is going to fund the program why shouldn't the public determine how the money is spent? If its all about public support of the arts why not let the public decide?


Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble
Star Chamber meets in Darkness and rubble
Circled by pleaders from near and from far
Couldn’t we meet at some local bar?

The Pleaders are lined from here out to there
All with the question, will they be fair?
Will I be chosen? Will I be the one?
Will they say my project’s the one to be done?

Piss in a jar or fists you know where
Is it art if I sing it just isn't fair?
Last edited by Bill Call on Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:51 pm, edited 5 times in total.


michael gill
Posts: 331
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:28 am
Location: lakewood

Postby michael gill » Tue Jul 22, 2008 9:22 am

That's funny, Bill.

But if you would advocate capital investment . . .

" Look, if the $200 million was spent to provide seed money for a new Beck Center building, a capital improvements fund for Playhouse Square or Gordon Square, or other physical assets I would be supportive (reluctantly)"

. . . you clearly don't understand the situation.

I don't understand the science of going to mars, or researching cancer. But we invest tax dollars on that, and of course in vastly greater amounts than we invest in arts programming (whether it be neighborhood school outreach or world reknowned performance). Now that you've pointed out my exclusion, I'm beginning to think I ought to be able to vote on which contractors get those gigs, and what exactly makes for worthy science.

Meet me sometime, and I'd love to talk with you about it.


Valerie Molinski
Posts: 604
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2007 8:09 am

Postby Valerie Molinski » Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:15 am

Mr Call, no offense, but I think you would be the last person I would choose to determine what is art and what isn't for the rest of us.



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