Monday, April 20, 2009

After the Rally

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The Good
I had been looking forward to the Indy Culture Matters Rally for a couple weeks and was quite impressed with the turn out. I would hate to have hazard a guess myself on the attendance, but apparently the IMPD estimated the turn out in the neighborhood of 2000 people. Much higher than some of the radio stations I heard tell say a couple hundred. I had the opportunity to see a great number of people I don't often have a chance to chat with which has nice and a great variety of local arts organizations made there presence known. The Indy Culture Matters Rally t-shirts could be seen bespeckling the crowd. It appeared that all of the television stations made it out filming the event and interviewing a number of people. All of this is good as it gets the name of these assorted arts organizations out to a larger audience and helps us build the awareness of the arts and how it matters to Indy's future and growth. Optimism was certainly in the air.

The Bad
I am not sure what I expected at the Rally exactly, perhaps some rebel rousing, a feel that we are sick and tired of being side lined. But this element did not quite rear its head. Instead, it felt much more like a pep rally. While most of the event had some good points, I would be remiss if I did not bring up one point in particular, the Mayor. Am I the only one who was surprised he was there to speak on behalf of the arts? I was thinking to myself, "you got to be f**king kidding me". After all he is, in my mind, one of the key reasons the arts are being side lined and all arts funding is being cut. The sheer number of cheers and people clapping when the Mayor was introduced was a bit surprising to me as well (am I just a cynic), I didn't hear a single boo or any sort of heckling. Perhaps we are just too kind to do such a thing, but for a rally put together in what I thought was the spirit of activism, it sort of ran aground. The Mayor did mention a number of the bullet points we all use to defend the need to continue to fund the arts and discussed how the arts are important to the long term growth of Indianapolis but he failed (or rather cleverly) to mention his planned cuts to all arts funding. He left us with his final thoughts to all the arts organizations (I may be paraphrasing here) "Continue to do what you do". Well, thanks.

The Ugly
So, what was ugly? The weather. Yes... It was quite cold which may have had an impact on the turn out as I did not see some people I expected to see. I know once I set foot outside I was briefly tempted to not head out but this event was necessary. It was completely overcast but I at least the rain held out. A good thing as I forgot to bring an umbrella.

In all, I think the event was very much worthwhile and in many regards a success.  Everyone involved in getting this event up and running should be commended for doing a fabulous job. Getting all these diverse arts organizations out together to make a statement is no easy task. Time will tell if this gathering had any sort of impact on our current situation. I can only hope that the Mayor and other policy makers in Indianapolis took notice and understand the importance to continue funding the arts. While Indy and the rest of the state is being asked to bail out the local stadiums for a total cost of $47 million, we could continue to fund the arts (which was budgeted at $1.5 million a year) for the next 30 years. Maybe I again focused on what I felt was bad about the rally but I choose to remain optimistic. 

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8 Responses to “After the Rally”

The Urbanophile said...
April 21, 2009 at 1:50 PM

Scott, I did not attend, however, I too was very puzzled by the list of "establishment" types who spoke. I thought this was supposed to be an arts community rally?

Given the perception of the mayor wrt the arts, it is odd to stage a rally to, in effect, put the seal of approval on his leadership in this area.

I urged the mayor to make arts, cultural, and intellectual affairs important to him, and to let people know they are important to him. If this is the start of that, the it is a great day. If not, Indy's arts community just got p0wned.

Nikki Sutton said...
April 21, 2009 at 2:42 PM

I know I left feeling like I had a mouth full of pacifier...

m ruschman said...
April 21, 2009 at 5:12 PM

I left the rally disappointed. I thought it would provide us with an opportunity to voice our displeasure and concerns with the current administrations policy of cutting funding for the arts. Not a word was said; certainly not by the mayor. I was hoping the speakers would call the crowd to action and encourage them to contact their city county councilor. Instead, it was a pep rally for the arts with all the familiar things said about how important the arts are to the city. Unfortunately, we say these familiar things, but the funding continues to be cut. As pep rallies go, it was a good one. Given our current economic situation, it's just not what I expected.

diong said...
April 23, 2009 at 9:01 AM

Exactly my impressions especially about what seems to be a lack of passionate protest feel about the whole thing. I took pictures during the TEA protest rally and saw some biting and creative signs and placards... But in this rally, I probably saw 5 out of 2000 attendees holding some sort of sign why they were there. If culture really matters, I hope we do this thing again, next time attendees and organizers will show more protest; for a visual artist probably create a piece for the event, bring it and shout.

Anonymous said...
April 23, 2009 at 10:26 AM

This event was organized by a group of CEO's of arts organizations, including most of the big ones. If they let their people out for the day to the rally, that could account for the size and the pacificity of the crowd.

It seems strange to have Eugene White, who has turned IPS into a prison system, giving a speech about art or anything creative.

The mayor's strategy seems to be to tell us that the arts are important, but the city is going to cut all funding, and it's up to everyone else to deal with the problem.

Anonymous said...
April 23, 2009 at 10:31 AM

By the way, does anyone remember that lady last year who got everyone to say how supportive the arts community was of the mayor, and started a petition drive when Ballard cut the funding from $1.5 million to $1 million. We were doing our part.

Is she still cheerleading for him now that it's down to $870,000?

The Dude said...
April 24, 2009 at 9:17 PM

Yeah, I agree, Scott.

A bunch of wimps out there. We should have yelped at Ballard. The only guy who brought any kind of fire was the guy from the ICVA. I'm pretty sure that the guy from IPS wasn't speaking in complete sentences or with proper grammer.

The CEOs were more interested in quirky jokes about their top coats.

Nothing made any sense, did it?

Anonymous said...
May 12, 2009 at 12:55 PM

I think the arts community showed intelligence towards the mayor. The problems in City Support for the Arts are much deeper than one man. Indianapolis and the CIB are teetering on the edge of a financial abyss. I think that the mayor is showing that he supports the growing arts community and doesn't want Indianapolis to return to a place without art and artists, but realistically and regretfully the budgets of the city are necessarily being cut for all sorts of things.

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