On Friday, January 20, members of the House Executive Departments and Administration (ED&A) Committee heard testimony from a range of people opposed to HB 1274 (to abolish the Department of Cultural Resources) and HB 1285 (to repeal the State Art Fund–Percent for Art Program). There was standing room only in the committee room, with at least 100 people attending and dozens of people speaking against the bills; excellent testimony was presented from the business community, artists and arts professionals, librarians, historians, students and engaged citizens. The committee chair, Representative Carol McGuire, graciously allowed all the testimony to be heard, greatly extending the time alloted for each hearing.
HB 1274: Everyone who testified opposed HB 1274 except the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Steve Vaillancourt. Testimony was given from representatives of the Nashua, Dover, Manchester, Rochester and greater Concord Chambers of Commerce. Other business leaders spoke about the important economic impact of cultural dollars to cities including Portsmouth, Concord and Nashua, and the role that the Department of Cultural Resources plays in efficiently preserving New Hampshire’s cultural heritage and promoting its cultural resources.
Artists who make a living through their art as sole-proprietor businesses spoke eloquently about the role of the NH State Council on the Arts in providing an infrastructure for entrepreneurial training and residency programs statewide and for its small grant programs. Students from the Bishop Brady High School in Concord championed the Poetry Out Loud (POL) program, in which nearly 10,000 NH high school students participated last year. POL is a program administered by the NH State Council on the Arts with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The State Arts Council and all of its NEA funding would be eliminated through HB 1274.
HB1285: Thoughtful testimony addressed the sponsor’s concern that dedicated funds are a poor funding mechanism for state government. Testimony was presented that countered the argument that art for state buildings should be a line-item in an appropriation budget, instead of funded through the State’s capital budget. The current legislation establishing the State Art Fund (Percent for Art program), ensures that artwork to enhance state building projects is carefully conceived and selected through a Site Selection process that includes the building’s users, planners, and members of the public. Funds are also provided for conservation and preservation of the artwork in later years.
The ED&A Committee will meeting in Executive Session this Wednesday, January 25, at 12:30 in LOB 306 to discuss both bills. The session is open to the public, but no public testimony is allowed. The Committee uses this time to discuss each bill and decide whether to pass it (in which case it would be sent on to the House Finance Committee), to recommend that it go to study (with a sub-committee appointed to further investigate the ramifications of the bill), or vote it Inexpedient to Legislate.
As soon as we learn how the Committee votes on the bills, we will update the web site and send out an email Alert. If either bill goes forward, we will continue to contact House representatives so if the bills reach the House floor for a full vote, they will not pass.
We were very successful in the first round of opposing this destructive legislation! The arts and business community rallied to show strong support for keeping the Department of Cultural Resources intact and for preserving the small, dedicated fun for public art in state buildings. Thank you to everyone who reached out to arts advocates, teachers, students and business professionals, to everyone who submitted testimony, and to everyone who attending the hearings!
On Friday, January 20, members of the House Executive Departments and Administration (EDWe were very successful in the first round of opposing this destructive legislation! The arts and business community rallied to show strong support for keeping the Department of Cultural Resources intact and for preserving the small, dedicated fun for public art in state buildings. Thank you to everyone who reached out to arts advocates, teachers, students and business professionals, to everyone who submitted testimony, and to everyone who attending the hearings!