Art Bar

Seeing red — As recently as 2002, Michigan was ranked fourth-highest in the nation in arts spending per capita. Five years later, we're ranked 35th and falling fast. At $10.1 million dollars a year, the state currently invests $1.07, per citizen, in the arts. That amazing film you watched at the Detroit Film Theatre last night? The state doesn't think it's worth a diner's donut and cup of coffee.

What more damage can be done? Well, if you're involved in the creative community, you already know: Gov. Jennifer Granholm last week placed a moratorium on $7.5 million worth of state grants, including those already promised to Michigan's arts and cultural organizations, through September. Basically, they're reneging.

Among this year's winners of grants from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Detroit Artists Market, for instance, won't be getting the rest of its $7,500 check from the council. In an e-mail to friends and fans, jazz musician Spencer Barefield reports that the funding for his group, Creative Arts Collective, is on hold, and he's already spent some of the money by playing concerts.

Smaller nonprofits may have to curtail programming, cut staff or even close doors, according to ArtServe Michigan Director of Communications Aric Liljegren. With the creative industry supplying more than 108,000 jobs, a 60 percent disinvestment since 2002 is proof that our government just doesn't get it.

"In crisis," Liljegren says, "the arts and culture sector is perhaps uniquely equipped to attract new business and innovators. It's obviously going to have residual effect of revitalizing the economy. This is a time for strategic reinvestment to attract talent, rather than driving it away."

ArtServe has planned a rally at the State Capitol at 9-10:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 18. More information on the situation will appear next week in Metro Times.

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