Artists get stimulus help

March 28, 2009 4:17:09 PM PDT
The recession is affecting artists, dancers and musicians everywhere, including the Bay Area, but hope is on the way. A House committee in Washington is examining how communities everywhere are being affected. $50 million has been set aside to give a boost to the arts and entertainment industry. The arts are big business generating 5.7 million jobs and $166 billion in economic activity each year. The House Education and Labor Committee, chaired by Congressman George Miller (D) of Concord, was told artists are unemployed and need their share of the stimulus package.

"Our hope is we will be to funnel money into some of the local arts organizations," said Congressman Miller.

"I'm on a mission to make people understand that arts are a part of our cultural, educational and economic main course. They are not dessert," said Tim Daly, an actor from ABC's "Private Practice."

The Axis Dance Company in Oakland gets a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Their touring budget has been cut and a plan to add a new dancer this season has been shelved.

"Every day we hear about companies closing their doors, cancelling their seasons or shortening the season, laying-off dancers, so it really is dire," said Judith Smith, the artistic director of the Axis Dance Company.

Today we have the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, helping to bail us out. In the Great Depression President Franklin D. Rosevelt created "TRAP"-- the Treasury Relief Art Project.

It's like the public works of art project back in the 30's as the country was coming out of the Great Depression. The murals at Coit Tower were painted by 26 Bay Area artists getting back to work.

The muralists earned $31.22 a week. It was living. Seventy-five years later, Mona Caron is creating a mural in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. It's publically financed.

"I hope for a renewed appreciation of the importance of art to a society, and what it does for the psyche. It really makes life better, because after all, we don't just need bread, we need roses too you know," said Caron.


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