February 6, last Friday afternoon, the U.S. Senate approved by a vote of 73-24 an amendment put forth as part of the economic recovery bill by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). The amendment included this text: “None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.”
According to Americans for the Arts, this amendment would preclude many arts groups from receiving any stimulus funding.
My own gripe is that the arts have been lumped in with casinos, golf courses, and stadiums. The amendment’s wording is underhanded; arts stimulus packages should be considered separately from such entities. That the arts will suffer is a given, at least in the short term. But equating the arts with institutions created specifically to relieve people of their hard-earned dollars is not acceptable. Casinos employ untold numbers of people; the arts do, too. Their raisons d’etre, though, could not be more polarized.
To read the full article describing the amendment and proposing action you may want to take to protest this amendment, click here.