Californians support arts funding


January 24, 2002|By TERESA NOVINGER, Imperial County Arts Council

Californians overwhelmingly support arts funding and arts in the schools. That's the conclusion of research released by the California Arts Council in December.

According to the state Arts Council-sponsored study, more than 78 percent of Californians would be willing to spend $5 each in additional state taxes to fund the arts. Survey findings indicate that 81 percent believe arts improve the academic performance of children and 90 percent believe the government should play a role in arts funding.

Also indicative of high public interest in the arts was the finding that 83 percent of those surveyed attended a performing or visual arts event at least once in the past year and 31 percent attended four or more performances a year.

In addition, support for increased funding for the arts came from a wide spectrum on the socioeconomic scale, including 78 percent of African-Americans surveyed, 71 percent of those with incomes of less than $50,000 per year and 70 percent of people ages 18-29. People in lower income brackets had higher percentages than others in their support for more arts in schools.


The results might help mitigate the effects of a request from the governor for all state agencies to cut 15 percent from their budgets through fiscal 2001-2002, which ends June 30.

Funded by the David and Lucille Packard and James Irvine foundations, the Arts Council commissioned the researchers to conduct 1,200 random phone interviews throughout the state and to convene focus groups in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Fresno. This sampling shows the arts are more present in the daily lives of Californians than previously thought and that the public desires the arts in the school system.

Currently, the state Arts Council receives less than $1 per capita for its programs or about $32 million a year.

Join us at the Imperial County Arts Council headquarters at the Old Post Office Pavilion, 230 S. 5th St. in El Centro, on Sunday for the introductory Irish step dancing class for children and Irish Ceili dancing (group dancing) for adults. The classes are $10 per lesson and there will be two lessons per month. Classes will be every other Sunday.

Instructor Alisa Garber of the Thornton Academy is a finalist in the North American Irish Dance Championships. For more information call Al Van Veen 344-6824, Bridget O'Leary at 351-1656, Mairead Sariego at 352-3599 or the Rev. Thomas Dermody at 344-7710.

We are excited to be a part of this event, which is sponsored by the Claddagh Club of Imperial Valley.

String Fling 2002, an old- time fiddling contest, will be Friday and Saturday at the Imperial Valley Expo's Bingo Faire building in Imperial. They'll be good judges, good prizes and good jamming. For more information call Lyn Neal 352-6362.

"The Wizard of Oz" will be at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Palmer Performing Arts Center in Brawley. Admission is $20 and $10, or $10 and $5 for students through college.

Again, my sincerest thanks to all of those who responded so generously to our recent end-of-the-year fund-raising efforts. Your financial help will support our work and allow us to develop new programming in the coming months.

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