Dear Oklahoma:

You know I think the world of you, even though I don’t visit as often as I should. You know I love you, even though you’re as batty as Barry Bonds on a steroid binge. But listen: we are about to have some kind of intervention/Come To Jeebus Moment regarding you and your elected officials. About ten minutes ago, I got this notice from a pal of mine; apparently, one of your own is doing some tinkering with Obama’s stimulus package:

The U.S. Senate has voted to accept, by a vote of 73-24, an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) which states, “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.”

This amendment, which was supposedly intended to restrict objectionable spending in a few select federal infrastructure programs, will result in prohibiting any spending through the economic recovery in these
areas. This is the first clear vote on the arts that has occured in the U.S. Senate since July 12, 2000. The Senate final bill passage is still unclear, although it is expected to take place later tonight. Next week they will have a House-Senate conference committee to agree to a final version for the President to sign.

Seriously, Oklahoma, are you okay? Is there something you need to tell us? Is Kansas spiking your drinking water with peyote or fermented yak blood or whatever they drink up there? Does he beat you? Do we need to send help?

0 thoughts on “

  1. technorodent

    Richard:Don’t tell me you had designs on some of the TARP funds for your theater group? Otherwise, highway beautification sounds like an oxymoron.You are from Mississippi, right? Maybe it’s that $200,000 for a memorial plaza commemorating a 1993 flood in Mississippi, built on a frequently under-water flood plain that has you in an uproar?In any case, we have all been around long enough to know that if the people of New Orleans really want to fund the arts all they have to do is take the money they would have spent on roads and spend it on art theaters, then take the stimulus money and spend it on roads. Piece of cake.robWI’m stuck in Oklahoma but it is temporary.

  2. richard

    Rob: I think you underestimate the power of the cultural economy–which, in Louisiana, is the state’s third largest employer. (In some states, it’s larger.) Preventing funds from reaching cultural institutions is short-sighted and does nothing to leverage dollars via the arts/culture industry–and ideally, leveraging dollars is what any bailout package should be about.Not sure what you mean about the memorial plaza (what flood? where?) or the comment about New Orleans. To be sure, there are lots of arts/culture projects that aren’t worth funding, but there are plenty of others that are; usually the unworthy ones are weeded out through grants panels and such. But now those projects aren’t eligible for a single buck from the $700 billion bailout–funds that are going to every other major industry except culture.If you don’t see the problem with that…well, I don’t know what else to tell you.

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