I’ve put that logo on more concert programs over the last eleven years than I can possibly remember. Thanks to funding from the Illinois Arts Council I and several other musicians from ACM have traveled to Mexico and to Paris to perform concerts of music by Chicago composers.
Thanks to funding from the IAC, we have commissioned composers around the world, flown them to Chicago to hear their music performed, we have brought contemporary classical music to venues throughout the city and we have opened music schools in three different neighborhoods.
They’re not our only sponsor and the money they give us is a very small part of our overall budget but nonetheless, they’ve been hugely helpful to us and to so many other arts organizations in the state and, considering what a small part of the state’s budget they receive, I would say that the return on investment has been extremely high.
How terribly sad then to see our new governor Bruce Rauner, who spent $64 million, $27 million of his own money, to get elected, decide that he can somehow balance our budget through cuts alone without even trying to find new revenue sources. How sad to watch him cut the IAC to the bone while giving raises to his staff, insisting that all Illinoisans must feel the pain while making it clear that this excludes those close to him.
No, the only ones to feel the pain will be the downtrodden, poor, mentally ill, those who wish to use roads or public transportation to get around, and the artistically inclined. Why do we artists have to defend art’s place in society? Nearly all of the renowned societies throughout human history were renowned because of their arts, the only possible exception being the Romans who were renowned for orgies, aqueducts and aquiline noses.
It’s a sad but true fact that Illinois artists, and artists throughout the country, have to find ways to make art on their own. We cannot expect help from our city, our state or our federal government. We have to create earned revenue to support ourselves and create the art that we want and we have to become a force to be reckoned with. The mere fact that creating art is universally considered part and parcel of what it means to be human is not enough to have the government which we support allocate a miniscule portion of its budget to in turn support our work.
Farewell Illinois Arts Council. It was a good ride but we’re on our own now.