Chihuly art detail 12 21 97
Nearly 130 feet wide, some 12 feet high in a wave effect, with more than 2,000 curling and twirling and flowing pieces of startlingly colorful hand-blown glass -- blue, green, orange and yellow, and permutations of those -- Dale Chihuly's "The Mendota Wall'' has been set in place at the Kohl Center.

Add support for the arts to the list of items getting slashed under Gov. Walker's proposed budget.

The budget unveiled Tuesday calls for a 68 percent cut in state funding for the Wisconsin Arts Board while rolling the agency into the Department of Tourism.

Walker also wants to eliminate the Percent for Arts Program, which provides $500,000 annually for public art in new state buildings.

Among the projects funded by the Percent for Arts program is the "Nails Tails" sculpture in front of Camp Randall Stadium. The installation was done by renowned sculptor Donald Lipski, a University of Wisconsin graduate.

"These cuts will be devastating on many levels," says George Tzougros, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Arts Board since 1996.

The budget calls for cutting the Arts Board staff from 10 to 4, with remaining employees transferred to the tourism agency. Tzougros would report to Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett, an appointee of the governor.

Under the Walker budget, state funding for the arts would drop from $2.4 million in 2011 to $759,000 in 2012, matching federal dollars. States must have an arts agency in order to receive funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and must match any federal money they receive.

"Wisconsin has traditionally invested more than its federal award," says the governor's budget announcement.

In addition to the Arts Board cuts, the budget reduces funding for education and local governments, the UW System and technical colleges.

Anne Katz of the advocacy group Arts Wisconsin fears that arts funding will be slashed as school districts scramble to balance their budgets.

"This exactly the time we should be investing in our 21st century creative economy," she says.

Katz is working to organize an Arts March at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in front of the Concourse Hotel during Arts Day 2011 to protest Walker's plan.

 

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