In the age of “customized” news reporting, the many news options available to us allow us the liberty of watching only the news we want to see/hear about from who we want to read/hear it from. Yet this recent age of journalism also allows important news items to fall through the cracks and/or be under-reported by the news outlets. While The Shaun could go on and on regarding the under-reporting and outright false reporting by news outlet both locally and nationally, The Shaun will concentrate his focus on the crisis that faces government funded arts programs in the state of Illinois.
Let The Shaun first give you a crash course the world that is non-profit funding as some may not be aware of some aspects.
The majority of the public may be under the impression that non-profit get their primary funding from donations, fundraisers and grants. While donations and fundraisers are vital to the success of a non-profit organization, a greater percentage of these funds that help finance the day-to-day operations come from grants. These grants adhere to a strict application and review process before being “awarded” to the organization. The organization then patiently waits for a check to arrive.
Now before you go run and try to impress your friends with your “new found” knowledge of non-profit funding, know that while grants may be “awarded”, this does not guarantee the organization can always count on their grant check to arrive on time or, in some recent cases, not arrive at all.
This is currently the case in the state of Illinois where funding to many foundations and state councils have been frozen in the wake of recent disputes over the balancing of the state budget. Some of these foundations and state councils are the funding source for the grants awarded to non-profit organization across the state. While these disputes over the state budget continue, the funds cannot be distributed to the foundations, hence grants are not being funded; putting many non-profit organizations in dire financial situations. Some organizations and programs in Chicago have been forced to close due to, in some cases, month delays lasting several months in receiving their funding from the state as reported in this article from TimeOut Chicago in June 2010. The Illinois Arts Council sent this letter on June 8th, 2011 to those still awaiting their grant funding.
This past February, Fox News Chicago did report on the budget dispute and possible effects to Illinois prorgams (Fox News Chicago’s report on Possible Budget Cuts), it fails to inform the reader what services/programs have been deemed “unnecessary”…such as funding for the arts. If you are on the fence regarding the necessity of funding to the arts programs in Illinois, The Shaun invites you to take time to review this statement from The Illinois Arts Alliance/Foundation on the importance on state funding.
Now The Shaun shouldn’t have to enlighten any of you on the status of the banks across the country more or less on the state level so that can give you a clue to how much assistance any of these struggling organization are getting in the form of low-interest loans. So the only course of action the art organizations across the state have to save the programs/organizations they facilitate is to produce emergency fundraisers and solicit donations from those in the community. Mind you, most of these programs/organizations are housed and run out of low-income neighborhood who families have been hit the hardest by the recent economic crisis that faces the entire nation.
Funding for programs/organizations that assist in the development of children across the state of Illinois are being put in peril because they have been deemed “unnecessary”.
In a world where remakes and reboots fill our movie theaters…the arts have been deemed “unnecessary”.
In a world where the only “artists” our children know of is those from music competition reality TV shows sponsored by Pepsi and GoDaddy.com…the arts have been deemed “unnecessary”
In a world where the best music is never played on the radio, the arts have deemed “unnecessary”
In a world where the general public consider spoken word, “that thing they did on that HBO show a few years ago”…the arts have been deemed “unnecessary”
The Shaun begs to differ..
In a world where creativity is fleeting, free expression is censored and imagination is ignored…THE ARTS HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE NECESSARY.
Most of the greatest art created whether it be music, literature or performance has been created out low-income neighborhoods. Rock, Blues, Jazz, Hip Hop and most modern forms of dance came from areas which many of you would call “the ghetto”, yet most just consider it…HOME.
The Shaun implores you the understand the severity of the crisis he has brought to you and invites to make your voice heard as losing the arts anywhere means losing the arts everywhere.