Illinois Arts Council Logo
presented to
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Written Testimony
by Shirley R. Madigan
Chairman, Illinois Arts Council
Chairman Joyce, members of the House Appropriations-General Services Committee, my name is Shirley R. Madigan and I am Chairman of the Illinois Arts Council. On behalf of the Council and our staff, thank you for your support over the past forty-five years.
Since 1965, the IAC has been proud to support and sustain the arts for people and communities throughout the whole of Illinois.
We do this because IAC funds actually touch and change lives and living conditions in Illinois through our schools, communities, individuals, and cities. There is no education without the arts.
We do this because the arts in Illinois are an economic engine, a source of jobs and revenue for the state and local economies from Rockford to Cairo and from Quincy to Charleston. The Arts Council is a revenue generating agency for the State of Illinois, and the funds we award to organizations and individuals turn over many times in their communities.
And we fulfill our mission well, ensuring the responsible and impactful distribution of every penny statewide. People, schools, and small nonprofit businesses in 100% of Senate Districts and 96% of House Districts received direct support from the IAC in our last complete fiscal year.
Everyone benefits from Illinois' investment in the arts.
In terms of economic impact, the arts mean revenue. It's been calculated that arts and cultural businesses in Chicago alone generate approximately $58 million in local and $45 million in state government revenue.
Statewide, the arts also mean jobs. As of January 2009, Illinois was home to more than 25 thousand arts-related businesses that employed nearly 125 thousand people*. 
Let's talk more about jobs, because arts jobs are real jobs.
As you may be aware, the Arts Council received a small amount of money - $361,000 - from the Federal government this year to preserve arts jobs as part of the Stimulus package. Using this money as partial salary support, twenty-five positions were directly preserved at nineteen different organizations.
While that might not seem like a lot of jobs, the support for these positions has in turn helped the majority of these organizations from going under entirely, and thereby has saved numerous other jobs downstream.
Take for example a touring company called Imagination Theater:
This group performs on location at schools and nursing homes throughout Illinois, serving more than 100,000 children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, senior citizens, and people with disabilities each year. They use theater to address tough social issues, educate communities, and improve life quality for participants of all ages.
After many cost-cutting measures, the Artistic Director position was the only full-time staff position left, and the company's continued existence remained at serious risk.
Because we were able to provide just partial salary support for this pivotal job, Imagination Theater can continue offering not only quality educational theater, but also 18 more part-time jobs to Illinois actors.
Now, we are frequently told that small business will be the force that pulls our country out of the recession, that small business is the backbone of our economy.
We could not agree more.
The vast majority of artists and arts organizations the IAC supports are small not-for-profit businesses like Imagination Theatre. These artists and arts organizations pay taxes, spend money in their communities employing staff and contractors, and patronize local retailers.
The main way the IAC supports these organizations is through general operating support. These funds are the absolute most critical support needed, because they are practically the only source of financial support not tied to a specific project or program. The funds can go toward rent, utilities, salaries, supplies - whatever the organization needs to simply operate.
In FY10, the IAC awarded just under $4 million in general operating support to 794 organizations statewide. Due to the drastic cuts to the IAC budget, this figure is down more than 50% from three years ago, removing $5 million "hard working" dollars from the local economies of this state.
The relevance of emphasizing the great economic benefits of the arts for Illinois is clear, particularly in the face of the state's ongoing financial crisis. But there is much more to the arts than dollars and cents: The arts inspire passion and empower
For our children, OUR future, the arts nurture creativity and imagination - the keys to succeeding and excelling in the 21st Century. They hone and enrich the skills our children need to lead the global community and hold the competitive edge in the world's economy. They provide refuge from a range of hurts, joy in discovery and creation, growth through reflection and contemplation, and, ultimately, the knowledge and skills to be more positively engaged and productive.
Which brings me to the importance of the arts in education: The arts are vital to providing a well-rounded education for all children.
Children involved in education that includes the arts have more success with their academics and with their social, emotional, and cognitive development.
Experiential learning. Innovation. Creativity. Higher-order thought. These are the skills our times call for above all, and these are the skills fostered by education in the arts. This is the kind of brain power that jobs follow. It's possible not one of these kids will be the next Picasso, but they will be healthier, more community involved, and better balanced human beings.
Unfortunately, there are broad disparities in arts education in our state. In particular, many rural schools of Illinois have minimal arts education opportunities. This is plainly unjust, and Illinois Arts Council is working to address these disparities.
The arts can be a part of the education of every single child in this state through the programs and services of the Arts Council and through our partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education.
Especially in poor and rural parts of Illinois, arts-in-education programs help give a voice to those  without. After all, people need to express themselves. The arts offer a positive outlet.
The State of Illinois gets great "bang for the buck" from the IAC. Even with one of the smallest budgets in State government - 0.060% of Illinois' overall General Fund Expenditures in FY10 - our agency serves this important arts sector statewide.
The General Revenue Fund budget proposed for the Illinois Arts Council this year is $7.5 million.
This is not sufficient.
The IAC's budget dropped from $19.8 million in FY07 to $7.5 million in FY10 - an almost 63% decrease. The agency's programs have been decimated - many have been indefinitely suspended, and those remaining are greatly reduced - and significant staff layoffs have been made.
The cuts to the IAC's budget have gone beyond the bone and are significantly impeding the agency's ability to support the arts in Illinois.
Restoring the IAC's budget to $20 million for FY11 would ensure that the arts play a much needed role in the future for Illinois.
Of all times, the people need the arts now. In ways large and small, concrete and immeasurable, the arts are a "must have" in connecting Illinoisans and building vibrant communities.
Thank you for your attention today. The Illinois Arts Council remains committed to finding ways to support the people and organizations that provide these essential economic, educational, civic and cultural public benefits for all Illinoisans.
I look forward to your continued and increased support of our budget.
*Source: Dun & Bradstreet. From Americans for the Arts Creative Industries Report