May 17, 2016 03:30 PM

Mona Lisa is not amused.
Louisiana Citizens for the Arts, a nonprofit group that promotes state funding for the arts, is urging supporters to write to their legislators asking them to vote no on an amendment to House Bill 216 that the arts community considers “an insult to the artists of Louisiana.”

The bill itself amends the state’s Percent for Arts program, which currently requires the state to spend 2 percent of the cost of construction on public art at state buildings. HB 216 resets that expenditure at 1 percent and caps total art expenditures on a given project at $450,000.

When the legislation emerged from the state Senate it had been amended with a caveat: “However, no funds shall be expended for the acquisition of new works of art until after the agency has sought the donation of works of art from artists within the state and has been unable to obtain such works of art without charge.”

LCA composed a letter to state lawmakers, which supporters can send via this website, that reads:

As your constituent, I urge you to defeat Senate Floor amendment #2610, attached to HB216 by Senator Dan Claitor. This amendment, related to the state’s long standing Percent for Art program, states that “no funds shall be expended for the acquisition of new works of art until after the agency has sought the donation of works of art from artists within the state and has been unable to obtain such works of art without charge.” Simply put, this amendment would realize not one penny of savings to the general fund; has the potential for dangerous consequences; and would unnecessarily add new bureaucratic tasks to the already understaffed Division of the Arts. More importantly, it is an insult to the artists of Louisiana.

Our State is proud of its cultural economy - and rightfully so. The artists of Louisiana, especially those involved in the Percent for Art Program, are professionals, often with decades of training and dedication. Many have their work commissioned, installed and payed for by communities around the country. These artists are small business people with a payroll to meet, rent to pay, and their own families to feed. Artists should and would rightfully refuse to work for free, especially if compelled by law. In order to comply with this amendment, Division of the Arts staff would be tasked with useless questioning and mounds of documentation. Even if artists would volunteer their work, this would set a dangerous precedent and result in considerably lower quality of work.

I would like to ask the proponents of this amendment if they would offer to give up their legislative paycheck? Or if they would render their personal business services free of charge?

This is a hastily proposed amendment which would result in bad policy and seriously damage Louisiana’s strong cultural economy during a time when other economic sectors are struggling. I urge you to work to defeat it.



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