Georgia’s funding for the arts has been cut severely over the past several years. In 2009, over $3 million went towards the state’s art community. In 2013, the Georgia Arts Network, a nonprofit statewide arts service corporation that aims to strengthen the arts community in Georgia, reported that the arts budget was a mere $586,466. Georgia now ranks 49th in state support of arts funded programming. This is a significant decrease from being ranked 28th in 1971 or even 34th in 1997. Although there has been a steady decrease, recent years have proven to be the most taxing. Beyond speculation, there is no concrete evidence as to the reasonings behind the decision to continue giving less to the arts.
As of March 24, 2016 state officials are working on the new budget for the year of 2017. Nothing has been signed with the publication of this article and it is unknown if the future budget will provide more funding for the arts. To correct this problem, the Georgia Arts Network has tried to create awareness of this issue while also strengthening the art community by bringing artists together through programming, events and news.
Not only does defunding of the arts take away from grade school students who have an interest in them, but it also greatly affects the jobs of over 200,000 people employed by arts programs statewide. According to Arts Georgia, a Georgia arts advocacy nonprofit, Georgia’s arts budget has been cut by over 80%. This has resulted in a 70% reduction of its staff as well as major programs in arts education, artist residencies and the elimination of the arts as a whole.
As SCAD Atlanta students prepare for opportunities in their specific art practices, they are also beginning to feel the far reaching effects of poor funding. Professional Writing MFA student Jasmyne-Nicole Walker noticed it when she first became a Georgia resident. “When I first moved to Atlanta after graduating from undergrad in 2007, finding a job in the creative industry seemed impossible. I found myself falling back on my backup technical skills in animal husbandry. Even then, the numbers were miniscule compared to other states.”
It’s common to hope that after we further our education, we can leave with some certainty of obtaining a job in our field. To prevent this from happening to more of us as SCAD students, it is important to take advantage of the resources the school provides such as utilizing the SCAD job portal and meeting with a career adviser. Walker says, “I think what Georgia will find is that stifling artistic development means stifling the educational opportunities of our youth. It means stifling opportunities for bridge-building and healing of communal issues.”