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Arts Funding Campaign Up Against Internal Foes

November 02, 1987|ZAN DUBIN

SAN FRANCISCO — An unprecedented grass-roots campaign to substantially increase state arts funding has met with some resistance from those who stand to benefit from the plan.

The Arts California Campaign was formally introduced to members of the California Confederation of the Arts, the state's arts advocacy organization, at its 12th annual convention held here Thursday through Saturday).

The statewide campaign, whose goal is a $30-million budget or $1 per capita public arts support by 1990--about double what it is now--demands more community outreach and political advocacy than ever undertaken by the confederation, organizers say.

"From now on, every (legislative) incumbent and challenger is going to be asked, 'Where do you stand on the dollar-per-person goal?' " said Dennis Mangers, the confederation's public policy co-chairman, as he opened the group's Congress of the Arts.

The new campaign is designed to send the confederation's message to Gov. George Deukmejian, Mangers told about 350 confederation members at the Cathedral Hill Hotel. Crucial to the plan are strategies to seek Republican arts donors and encourage advocacy by arts supporters close to the governor. Other tactics include persuading Hollywood celebrities and newspaper editorial writers to champion the cause.

While some confederation members supported the campaign enthusiastically, others voiced objections to it at the convention titled "Public/Private Partnership?."

"It is clear that the campaign's success relies heavily on the leadership of major institutions" with budgets of $1 million or more, said Bonnie Brittain Hall, development director for the South Coast Repertory Theater in Costa Mesa.

"It is also clear we won't get our key volunteers (boards of director members with political and financial clout) involved unless we can prove the campaign will have a positive fiscal effect on their organizations," she said. "And that will depend on whether the confederation pressures the California Arts Council" to lobby to raise its own $14.5-million budget to $30 million by 1990, and "make funding for major institutions a priority next year."

The council, the state's arts agency, recommended no funding increase for major state arts institutions in its fiscal 1988 legislative budget request, although the number of organizations applying for those funds is increasing.

Opposition to the advocacy plan also came from individual artists, those who receive council funds for work they do independently of organizations.

"The confederation has become too preoccupied with the dollar amount of the state arts budget, overlooking how and where that money is dispersed," said Julie Mackaman, development director for San Francisco's Film Arts Foundation.

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