If You’re Not Pissed Off You’re Not Paying Attention

Dear friends of Sweat,

My blood is boiling right now and yours should be too because the latest county budget proposes to cut a seriously major chunk of funding for the arts and arts organizations in Miami.

Please use this link to find out who your district Commissioner is and write them an email.  From the statistics I’ve read, most people are so lazy that when someone actually does write an email they sort of weigh it as the opinions of as many as 100 individuals who didn’t make the effort.

So make the effort!  If there was ever a good reason that will affect you directly, this is it.  The letter from Michael Spring of the Department of Cultural Affairs is pasted below, and funnel the emotion you get from reading it into a very polite and passionate email…

Dear Colleagues,

Mayor Alvarez released budget recommendations for the County’s FY2009-2010 budget today.  This proposal includes substantial service cuts and workforce reductions to fill a $427 million projected budget gap.

If the budget is adopted as proposed, the Department’s budget will be reduced by more than $11 million dollars, requiring the elimination of nearly all of the Department’s grants for cultural organizations.   Grants to all social service “community-based organizations” and “mom and pop” small businesses are slated for elimination also. All county departments and services are impacted significantly.

The next step in the budget process is for the Board of County Commissioners to set a preliminary millage rate next Tuesday, July 21.  This will determine the degree to which the Commission can address and expand the budget priorities over the coming weeks, before the final budget is adopted.  It is critically important to let the County Commissioners know the impact that County funding has on providing great arts and cultural programs and services for the citizens of Miami-Dade County.   For contact information for the County Commissioners, please go to http://www.miamidadearts.org/Documents/Forms/Grantees/County%20Commission%20Contact%20List%207-15-2009.pdf

Historically, the County Mayor, County Manager and the Board of County Commissioners have been very supportive of the Department’s budget.  In previous, difficult budget years, they have consistently appreciated the impact of the cultural industry on the local economy, the importance of culture on the quality of life and the competitive advantage of our community, and have been mindful of the extraordinary return generated by the County’s investment in the community’s cultural assets.

We are scheduling a town meeting in the coming weeks to provide more details on the County’s cultural budget reductions and recommendations. We strongly encourage you to participate in the budget discussions that are taking place from this point on.


PS To see the entire proposed budget, please go to www.miamidade.gov  and click on the link “View the Proposed Budget.”

Michael Spring, Director
Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs
111 N.W. First Street • Suite 625• Miami, FL  33128
305-375-5049 Phone     305-375-3068 Fax
“Delivering Excellence Every Day”

9 thoughts on “If You’re Not Pissed Off You’re Not Paying Attention

  1. Thanks for this. Please keep us informed on the town meetings. I care about where our tax dollars go, hopefully we all do. District 7’s Carlos A. Gimenez is about to get a very thoughtful email from me.

  2. yes i agree this is shocking a desperate reminder of the times we live in. as harsh as this may sound though, if there is a 427 million dollar shortfall, where then will the money come from? how is the city going to cover that? take money from schools? take money from people trying to buy houses? taking money away from where? these are grim times we are looking at folks, and with the elimination of arts and organizations, things will only get worse as this recession deepens and money has to constantly be redistributed. all in all, for running a bankrupt city, the politicians are not doing too bad. and if certain publications/services do not like the fact that their grants are being eliminated, the city of Miami’s response will be “OK, then leave”. simple and to the point. sounds harsh i know, but thats the reality of the situation nonetheless.

  3. Thank you for alerting everyone on this Lolo! I’ve sent my email to District 10’s Sen. Javier D. Souto. I hope if enough people respond we can preserve the very important funding for the arts and cultural events here in miami.

  4. Jon – I see your point but the arts is something that can definitely provide a return on it’s investment. The more local bands we have that get great, the more local venues can be supported, creating jobs. The more artists that get national exposure, the more press the entire Miami art scene gets, which brings investors and giant art fairs like Basel. I think the whole situation of budget slicing is sad but in the grand scheme the 11m of arts funding probably goes a long way in making a ton of adults and children happy, fulfilled and busy.

    At the very least it makes me physically ill that they want to spend even $1 on a new stadium for the who-gives-a-f*ck Marlins that already have a place to play.

  5. Not to diminish the overall point, but the comment about the Marlins is incorrect. The Dolphins have wanted the team out for years, and the University of Miami only signed a contract with the stadium pursuant to the Marlins leaving at the expiration of their current lease. This is actually after 2010, but the Dolphins and UM were gracious to allow them to stay an extra year due to the lawsuits brought by Norman Braman which stalled stadium plans. And that is besides the fact the Marlins receive no revenue from parking/concessions/luxury boxes, as they signed a horrible lease back in the day. So they actually don’t have a place to play and the city would lose the team if they did not step up and help pay for well over half the stadium.

    As for no one giving a crap about the Marlins, attendance is routinely lowest in baseball, but you have to imagine that is due to stadium location. TV ratings are always top 5-7 in the sport, and that’s easily explained by the size of the Marlin’s home jurisdiction and culturally the large hispanic population who do love baseball. There is interest, but no one goes just because it’s a trek up (or down) from the turnpike. And who wants to do that after work. As for ‘player fire sales’ and the product on the field, as soon as the Marlins receive those aforementioned parking/concession/luxury box revenue, they will keep their players fixing the other half of the ‘who gives a crap equation,’ by people trusting in the franchise not to nickel and dime it anymore.

    The current building plans are to create a whole ‘nightlife’ area around the stadium, so the city (and Marlins) can receive revenue year round and not just for the 81 home games. i.e., potential venues for local bands, larger national concerts like a U2 or Green Day so they don’t have to play up in Broward or Coral Sky/whatever it’s called now, etc. It might not be the indie rock crowd, but it’s going to help a lot of musicians and entertainers in the city. You also have to feel there will be widespread area gentrification starting in a year as developers rush to build things around the stadium, which is simply a huge anchor property for the city.

    I’m all for a crusade to keep funding for local arts, but getting upset with the city for keeping a significant financial asset like the Marlins, which will probably help the music scene here in some capacity, isn’t really a legit beef in my eyes. My beef with the stadium is the location. It should be on part of the property of Bicentennial Park, Bayfront Park, old Miami Arena, where the new Wind/Ivy/Mynt Condominiums are just North of Tobacco Road, or somewhere else DOWNTOWN where there is a plot east of I-95. Regardless, this city does phenomenally stupider things. The baseball stadium should work out though.

  6. Lou,

    All I’m saying is, 11 million is a pittance compared to what it costs to build a stadium. Perhaps if they cut out the extravagant VIP sky-boxes or scaled down the jumbo-tron a touch or maybe just a few less than 57 food vendors or SOMETHING there might be some money left over to fund hundreds of arts grants in Miami. It just seems wholly unfair that sports takes such precedence over culture that all the arts funding costs what Dwayne Wade or someone makes in half a season and we still have to fight for it.

    Our forefathers would be ashamed.

  7. Folks, you are confusing too many things here. First off, the city and the county are different entities. Mayor Alvarez released his budget for the county. The city is what you just read about being bankrupt.

    The funding for the stadium comes from completely different sources than schools, health care, or the county’s general fund. That money could never be used for any of those things.

    To answer Jon, money to cover the shortfall will not be taken from schools, in short it will be taken from people trying to buy houses…in the form of higher taxes. People in this city are going to have to decide if they want to maintain services like regular trash collection and pothole filling and pay a little more in taxes…or slide down a deep, dark hole and start to look a lot like a third world country.

    What many of the Hispanic population here doesn’t understand is that America isn’t great without cost to us taxpayers. The government isn’t trying to steal our money or land like Castro or Chávez. Taxes fund our quality of life, and paying a little more is better than the alternative…a bleak, dirty county with even more people complaining.

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