Based on the Gangplank Futurespective, one thing I promised myself to investigate was Creative Economy AZ. This is an initiative to raise 1/10th of cent sales tax for the next 20 years to help fund the arts. I spent a fair amount of time researching what they had online, but felt it was best to meet with those working hard on it before passing judgement.
A few weeks ago I met with Amy Heisler from Metro Phoenix Partnership for Arts and Culture and Sophie O’Keefe-Zelman from First Strategic to talk about the Creative Economy AZ Initiative. Amy is extremely passionate about arts and culture in Arizona and it shows. I didn’t learn too much new about the initiative as they do a great job outlining what they are about on their website, from the problem to the solution and on taking action.
I agree with the stated problem. However, I don’t agree with the solution. We are in one of the worst economic fiasco’s of this century, both federally and as a state. With a state budget deficit of several billion and climbing I see little to no chance for this initiative to pass. Beyond that, I think that it actually puts creatives in a bad light. It makes creatives look like in the toughest time, that they are the first in line to look for a hand out.
Maybe, I am old fashioned, but this just doesn’t seem right. I wish that the millions being put into PR, legal fees and lobbying for this initiative were instead being put into efforts to unite the creative class in metro Phoenix. We are already seeing pockets of people working together to affect radical change in their area of influence. Imagine if we were to put concentrated effort into getting people to support the arts that are already here and the movement that is already happening?
My Take: Our arts are severely underfunded, but raising taxes to support them in this economic climate is not the right approach.
That said, there is nearly always more than one path to reach an intended destination.