August 19, 2019
I’m writing today with an update on the situation that’s been on all our minds and hearts this summer: funding for the Alaska State Council on the Arts (ASCA). In July it was my grim duty to report a veto of all fiscal year 2020 funding for the arts in Alaska, leaving the state arts agency without an operating budget.
It’s now my pleasure, however, to share uplifting news: full funding for ASCA has been restored!
Following Governor Dunleavy’s line item vetoes of 182 state programs, including ASCA, the state legislature reconvened to develop a supplemental budget package to reverse some of the cuts. HB2001 included $704,400 in state funding for ASCA, as well as authorization for ASCA to receive both federal and private funds. As he signed this supplemental budget bill, the governor re-vetoed numerous line items, but funding for ASCA was among the HB2001 appropriations left intact.
This is a triumph for the arts and a testimony to the power of advocacy. Alaskans from every point on the political continuum rose up and voiced support for the arts, for arts education and for Alaska Native cultural traditions. Arts advocates led the charge, but heartfelt testimony about the arts also was offered by young people, teachers, businesses and cross-sector stakeholders from every part of the state. ASCA’s budget restoration received bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature, a notable achievement in such a highly charged environment.
NASAA commends this policy decision. Restoration of funding for the arts is a smart investment for Alaskan communities and for the state’s economy, its children and its cultural heritage.
ASCA had to cease all activity (and was required to release all personnel from state employment) during its lapse in funding, but work has already begun to restore the agency’s staff, operations and programs.
I salute Alaskans for their tenacious commitment to their state arts agency, and a special standing ovation is due to all of the ASCA trustees and advocates who helped to bring this positive outcome to fruition. NASAA stands ready to assist the ASCA team in its rebuilding efforts, as well as in its future work to sustain this success.
Yours in grit and gratitude!
President and CEO