From the Director, Silagh White 10/1/09

The entire campus is reaching for Pacing Break; that tiny little change in routine that gives one breath to take on the rest of the semester – or at least, until Thanksgiving break.  Some students go home to catch up on sleep, laundry or course work. Others stay on campus to “break the bubble” and venture into the community to see what else the city has to offer. Most of the faculty regroup and dig through already heaping piles of grading. Staff continue their diligent work keeping the place running – there is no break for them.

But what about the “arts?” On Lehigh University’s campus, they are alive and thriving. Departments are presenting performances, or developing new works.  Students dig deep in their studios to refine their work to either give life and new meaning to masterworks, or to create entirely new works that inspire, or engage a dialogue about the human condition. Faculty find a way to fine turn their own performance while supporting colleagues, nurturing students, and managing all of the administrative responsibilities that come with their esteemed position. It’s a wonder when we all sleep?

We simply wouldn’t have it any other way. We are alive when we are working in a field that inspires such commitment, perseverance and passion.

Within all of this business, do we have time to think about the current issue of the Pennsylvania State budget toward future arts funding? Should it bother us that the state is now in the fourth month without a budget? That as of today, there are still no details on the proposed sales tax on tickets to performing arts venues, museums and zoos. With all the media coverage on the opposition to this tax, the truth of the matter is that we don’t know what’s included in it. I’d like to know a few things:

  • What does this proposed legislation say?
  • Is there really no alternative to this tax?
  • Will the sales tax apply to memberships in nonprofit organizations? Will the state tax charitable donations?
  • What about subscriptions? Might these be exempted?
  • Will there be an exemption for smaller nonprofits?
  • Can this tax be rescinded after the fiscal crisis is over?
  • Will there be a dedicated fund for arts and culture? If so, how will it be funded and at what level will it be funded and from what sources?
  • How will this fund be administered (this speaks to the health of the PA Council on the Arts – and yes, Lehigh University receives funding support from this agency.)
  • What organizations will be eligible for this funding?

Consider the ripple effects of this legislation. How will you choose differently on supporting other arts and cultural experiences? How will people choose differently to support the culture of our city, your arts organization, or the art you have dedicated your life to being?

If you are moved to be pro-active, contact your legislator. Use the Capwiz tool to take specific action on this issue. It’ll only take a minute, and you can customize the tool if you feel up to it. The bullet points listed above are included on the site. The site also lists phone numbers of your legislators – a call is quick, but effective. I encourage you to act.

I end this post with a famous historical quote: “The possibilities are numerous once we decide to ACT and not react.” ~George Bernard Shaw