In addition to zoning issues that impinge on art venues in rebounding neighborhoods, state budget cuts are hitting traditional arts powerhouses like the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH). Michael Sartisky, who serves as LEH's executive director, recently noted that state support for the organization was "slashed by $1.5 million from its level in 2007-08." The consequences were immediate: LEH has suspended its 2011-12 grant cycle.
That means no money — as of Nov. 1 — for LEH programs such as Outreach, Public Humanities, Teacher Institutes for Advance Study, Documentary Film and Radio, and the Louisiana Publishing Initiative.
"We remain fully committed to a sustained fight to reinstate an appropriate level of support from the state that will allow us to resume the funding of crucial programs to benefit communities and institutions across Louisiana," Sartisky wrote in an email blast. "But without appropriate levels of state funding, this simply is not possible."
Sartisky noted that the cuts will hit LEH's partner institutions hardest. "No films will be funded this year," he wrote. "Funding for American Routes (a public radio program), which the LEH supported for more than a decade, is eliminated."
State support for LEH reached $2 million under former Govs. Mike Foster an Kathleen Blanco. Sartisky said that level of funding created an economic impact of $14 million a year and allowed LEH to serve needy communities that lacked the infrastructure to support high-end cultural programs in libraries, museums, schools and other institutions. — Clancy DuBos