The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) joined arts advocates from all over Pennsylvania in the capitol Tuesday to lobby legislators for financial support of the arts.
According to GPAC CEO Mitch Swain, the main points of focus are a re-establishment of the PA Governor’s School for the Arts, additional funding for the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission and the approval of a proposed budget that allocates $9 million in funds to the arts.
The Arts & Culture Legislative Visit day is an annual event. Students, board members, art administers and leaders spend their day moving in and out of meetings with lawmakers and their staffs. According to Swain, days like this are critical for the state’s artistic communities and help to build relationships with legislators.
“It’s really crucial that you know these people and that they know you and so that the first time that you walk in you’re not asking them for something, that’s why we do this kind of work so often,” he said.
According to Swain, Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget calls for an $822,000 increase from the previous year’s allocation for the arts.
“Those grant funds come to us in the Pittsburgh area," Swain said. "They come to my organization and we hold peer panels and give away small grants for projects and for programs to help really exciting things happen like Knit the Bridge.”
Swain would also like to see more than $20 million for support of the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission (PHMC), and reinstatement of the Governor’s School for The Arts. The governor’s school was a five-week summer program for high school students who excelled in the arts. Funding for the program was eliminated in the 2009-2010 budget. According to Swain there has been an effort to restore some of the Governor’s Schools of Excellence, though the School for Arts is not in discussion.
PGAC also holds a workshop day to instruct volunteers how to meet with lawmakers effectively.
“Well what try to do before we come to these events is to provide some training and do a little bit of role playing on what it means to meet with an elected official, how to be prepared, put facts and information in front of the people that are participating,” Swain said.
The PGAC sees the arts and culture of the area as a catalyst for cultural tourism, tax dollars, and more.