All Points: Fort Worth is an arts town, but must arts have public funding ?

Posted Sunday, Apr. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

All Points is a special Monday feature in which readers respond to a question from the Editorial Board. With each week's responses comes the next week's question. All Points responses are not counted toward the monthly limit of one letter to the editor from each writer

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A task force on community arts organization funding in Fort Worth has moderated earlier demands and will not push for money from hotel tax revenue. The task force seeks a slight increase in contributions from the city's general fund and a share of its gas drilling revenue but will bow to other demands on public money. Is the task force pushing hard enough?

Cost-neutral ideas

Here are some very easy, cost-neutral things the Fort Worth City Council can implement:

Offer tax credits to businesses that provide direct support to Fort Worth based 501(c)(3) arts groups.

Benefits: It costs nothing and will encourage businesses to become more involved in improving Fort Worth.

Use a portion of the city's marketing budget (already approved) to promote ticket sales for all Fort Worth arts groups.

Benefits: Again, there's no additional cost to the city, and it will enhance arts tourism.

Please remember that the arts, much like libraries and schools, started out as pet projects of wealthy families and churches.

As they become an integral part of the society, governments see the wisdom in funding them.

-- Christopher McGuire, Fort Worth,

Fort Worth Classic Guitar Society

president/artistic director

Reliable funding

No, because the funding from gas mining is potential income, not guaranteed income. If the profits from natural gas extraction decline, so does the funding.

This uncertainty introduces risk for arts organizations, which must plan budgets and negotiate contracts years into the future.

Arts organizations like opera companies or non-profit theaters need firm sources of funding so that they can produce art: hire workers, purchase materials, engage a hall.

With a guaranteed source, arts organizations can then attract donations from private sources with a surety the production will be completed and that their donations will provide the benefit intended.

It's commendable to seek community benefit from the fracking resource extraction occurring beneath us. Please make the funding a reliable one by imposing a fee on gas mining, and not indexing the community's vital arts funding to potential earnings.

-- Joaquin Torrans,

North Richland Hills

On right track

The arts funding task force is on the right track. The public and private sectors of Fort Worth have worked too hard to ease up and let the arts be solely funded by the private sector.

Public financial support for the arts speaks to the core values of any city. Fort Worth has some of the lowest per capita arts funding of any Texas city near its size.

I understand the financial challenges and appreciate the task force's thoughtful acknowledgment of the current economy. It steered away from the hotel tax revenues even when it could be argued that the arts bring more hotel tax revenue than Stock Show-related events.

Using part of the gas lease and royalty earning is a good idea. We need to keep the Fort Worth arts scene strong. We need programs that engage our citizenry and visitors to explore and discover the power of music, theater and art.

-- Paul M. Dennehy,

Fort Worth

Commendable balance

Most people revere the works of art that mankind has produced.

Art serves to inspire others to excel within their own capabilities. It gives the less fortunate hope for a better future.

Unfortunately, mankind endures cycles of economic recessions whereby all citizens must conserve resources. It appears that the Task Force on Community Arts is taking a compatible course to reduce pressure or demand for additional funds.

This reflects a responsibility on the part of the task force that truly helps our economic woes.

The task force is to be commended for not only providing inspirational art to the community but being responsible in reducing expenses.

-- Grady Fuller, Kennedale

Patrons and taxpayers

Art patrons pay for the arts. Taxpayers are not art patrons. Arts folks are imaginative and could hold a festival for arts funding.

One example is the past annual Oktoberfest run by volunteers of the Symphony League of Fort Worth. It raised money for student concerts now funded by music patrons. Lorene Cecil, wife of U.S. Air Force Gen. Chester Cecil, originated the Symphony League's Oktoberfest in the Texas & Pacific Railway Terminal a year or two before Mayfest began.

Fort Worth is an arts town. Where are the arts patrons who will lay out sheets of paper or boards along the Trinity River so adults and kids can pay to "Paint Along the Trinity"?

Who will ask junior musicians to play along with a toot and a tweet or a "ta-da" to announce a painted tennis shoe contest, "Trinity tennies, " or food eating, lemonade drinking and art contest prizes?

-- Beverly Branham, Fort Worth

Push harder

No, the task force should push back at least as hard as the line the city took when it cut funding for the arts and Sister Cities.

The arts and Sister Cities bring visitors to Fort Worth, visitors that stay in hotel rooms, eat in restaurants, pay for entertainment and shop in retail stores. I'm pretty sure most of these activities create jobs and income for employees in these industries and are subject to city taxes.

The task force should request funding from all sources: royalty funds, the general fund and hotel taxes. There needs to be a long-term solution, not a stopgap.

The arts and Sister Cities contribute financially to the welfare of this city in ways many people don't see, and the task force should not be hesitant to ask for some of that money back.

-- Deb Wood, Fort Worth,

Arts Fifth Avenue managing director

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