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Testimony of Robert Bettmann at the Gap Closing Hearing November 30, 2010
TESTIMONY OF ROBERT BETTMANN
TO
CHAIRMAN VINCENT C. GRAY AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
FOR

PUBLIC HEARING ON BILL 18-1101, “FISCAL YEAR 2011 REVISED BUDGET REQUEST ACT OF 2010”; AND BILL 18-1100, “FISCAL YEAR 2011 SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET SUPPORT ACT OF 2010"

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2010, 9:30 A.M.
JOHN A. WILSON BUILDING 1350 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, N.W.
COUNCIL CHAMBER, ROOM 500

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I’m here to try and bring your attention to the impact of the recent series of cuts to arts funding. I know that arts funding isn’t as critical as emergency services, and I think that’s why the city has overlooked the impact of the recent series of arts funding cuts.

Without grants from the DCCAH the city doesn’t get some things, and these things have revenue generating value as well as cultural value.

I’m not here to try and convince you that the government should fund the arts. This $500,000 cut is the fourth cut in three years, and actually the smallest of the four. This cut saves the city basically nothing, but with an average grants size under $8,000 it will kill a tremendous amount of artistic activity in the city.

Arts funding happens from individuals, corporations, foundations, the federal government, and the city.
The city is a partner in providing art for the city.

Like with metro the arts funding system can’t run without the city maintaining its commitment.

This cut is also a little bit like insisting that because tests on math and English are down students should have more and more hours of English and math and nothing else. The city’s arts budget — before this latest cut – was less than $5 million, total. And there is a bell curve of support for the arts that’s the same as in teaching hour after hour of math – too little gets you nothing.

I’m not gonna try and convince you whether or not the city should support the arts. The city supports so many things, and maybe the city can’t afford to support the arts anymore. But if you think the city should support the arts you need to stop cutting funding for the arts.

Thank you for your time, and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about the District’s arts funding system.