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Miami Cultural Life on Life Support?

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I just got an email from one of the many important cultural organizations (name withheld) that keep this city from becoming a barren wasteland of empty condo units and traffic jams (BTW: How those two things manage to co-exist in one metropolis is a logical puzzle for some burgeoning mathmetician...), which contains a forwarded message from Michael Spring, director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs.

What it basically says is that arts and culture and everything else that separates humans from apes with iPhones is about to be completely cut from the county's budget. Or, numerically speaking, $11 million that is the life-blood of many orgs, large and small alike.

I've pasted Spring's email, the contact info for all 12 county commissioners, and the form letter you can cut-n-paste and send them, telling them all about the vote they won't be getting from you if they knock our city back into the Middle Ages. Yes, the Middle Ages, except with a really nice fucking baseball stadium that no one has any idea how much it will cost to build.

BTW: Email addresses aren't linked. This was just too urgent. Please cut-n-paste them.

Dear Colleagues,

Mayor Alvarez released budget recommendations for the County's FY2009-2010 budget today. This proposal includes substantial service cuts and workforce reductions to fill a $427 million projected budget gap.

If the budget is adopted as proposed, the Department's budget will be reduced by more than $11 million, requiring the elimination of nearly all of the Department's grants for cultural organizations. Grants to all social service "community-based organizations" and "mom and pop" small businesses are slated for elimination also. All county departments and services are impacted significantly.

The next step in the budget process is for the Board of County Commissioners to set a preliminary millage rate next Tuesday, July 21. This will determine the degree to which the Commission can address and expand the budget priorities over the coming weeks, before the final budget is adopted. It is critically important to let the County Commissioners know the impact that County funding has on providing great arts and cultural programs and services for the citizens of Miami-Dade County. For contact information for the County Commissioners, please go to WWw.miamidadearts.org/Documents/Forms/Grantees/County%20Commission%20Contact%20List%207-15-2009.pdf

Historically, the County Mayor, County Manager and the Board of County Commissioners have been very supportive of the Department's budget. In previous, difficult budget years, they have consistently appreciated the impact of the cultural industry on the local economy, the importance of culture on the quality of life and the competitive advantage of our community, and have been mindful of the extraordinary return generated by the County's investment in the community's cultural assets.

We are scheduling a town meeting in the coming weeks to provide more details on the County's cultural budget reductions and recommendations. We strongly encourage you to participate in the budget discussions that are taking place from this point on.



PS To see the entire proposed budget, please go to www.miamidade.gov and click on the link "View the Proposed Budget."

Miami Dade Board of County Commissioners:

Commissioner District Phone Email
Barbara J. Jordan 1 305-375-5694 District1@miamidade.gov
Dorrin D. Rolle 2 305-375-4833 BMORRIS2@miamidade.gov
Audrey M. Edmonson 3 305-375-5393 District3@miamidade.gov
Sally A. Heyman 4 305-375-5128 District4@miamidade.gov
Bruno A. Barreiro 5 305-643-8525 District5@miamidade.gov
Rebeca Sosa 6 305-375-5696 District6@miamidade.gov
Carlos A. Gimenez 7 305-375-5680 District7@miamidade.gov
Katy Sorenson 8 305-375-5218 District8@miamidade.gov
Dennis C. Moss (Chair) 9 305-375-4832 DennisMoss@miamidade.gov
Javier D. Souto 10 305-375-4835 District10@miamidade.gov
Joe A. Martinez 11 305-375-5511 District11@miamidade.gov
José "Pepe" Diaz 12 305-375-4343 District12@miamidade.gov
Natcha Seijas 13 305-375-4831 None. Fax 305-375-2011

Who is your commissioner? http://gisims2.miamidade.gov/CServices/CSMap.asp?Cmd=DUMMY&ShowWhat=12

Sample Email:

Dear Commissioner [Commissioner's Last Name here. Be sure to spell it right!],

I am very concerned about the proposed cut to the county arts budget. Your past support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs has helped make the arts a Miami-Dade County staple.

The proposed more than $11 million cut to the Department of Cultural Affairs would have an enormous detrimental effect on Miami-Dade County. Our arts organizations, from small to large, contribute greatly to the economy of our region. Just the loss of jobs resulting from this proposal will be huge, let alone the impact on tourism and the general economic and cultural health of our community. Thousands and thousands of jobs and services would disappear overnight. Tourists would be left with little to do and Miami would retreat to an image that all of us have fought hard to change.

I strongly urge you to vote to continue current support for the arts and community-based organizations.


[Your Name]
[Your address]

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