PUT THE VELVET ROPES TO BED: How arts organizations can stay afloat


Patti Her discussing community in Miami in a video produced for Dirty Pink 305.

Art has the power to foster and ameliorate communities, to drive markets and economies; it even has the power to heal, and yet in our society art often exists as something of an afterthought. Despite its value, art is often thought of as “frivolous,” “unimportant,” or simply “not a priority.”

Back in February, the House of Representatives stripped funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, voting to cut a quarter of the NEA’s budget for the 2011 fiscal year–a deep cut the NEA will suffer yet again in 2012. In many ways, this outcome could be considered a positive one, because two amendments in favor of getting rid of the NEA altogether were introduced earlier this year. Luckily, they were never put on the table for a House vote.

That “good fortune” ends at the federal level, because several states have begun cutting a great number of arts organizations and arts education programs. The governor of South Carolina even proposed that the state arts agency in South Carolina be eliminated. Florida, on the other hand, has plenty of substantial grants and programs that aid artists, events, institutions, etc. One well-known foundation gave more than 3.7 million in grant money in 2011, which is more than that provided by several states through their own arts agencies.

I think that Miami, and most of the state of Florida, recognizes that funding art programs isn’t a waste of time–it’s an investment. I believe Miami recognizes that art is very much an agent of social, political and economic change. So South Florida’s arts enthusiasts are still here, ten years after Basel first came to Miami, after the major galleries have sprung up, in the midst of a recession–they are still pushing non-stop towards the future. It is its resilient and united community that makes Miami’s bright future a reachable reality, a journey of sorts that is being documented by our organization Dirty Pink 305.

When Claire Breukel first told me about this project, I knew I had to be a part of it. I was fascinated by the fact that it documents history in motion, that it strives to capture Miami’s real art history and the people who make it. Most importantly, I was fascinated by the fact that it is open to everyone. There are no long lines and velvet ropes. People are free to dig into the history that’s being made or has been made, whether it’s good or bad. Therein lies the beauty of this project.

It gives me immense joy to be a part of Dirty Pink 305 and to be blogging about the project for the Art21 Blog. We are bridging gaps and fostering a dialogue that doesn’t begin or end with any one specific community. It all comes down to this:

In a socio-economic climate where the arts are considered to be “unnecessary” and “expendable,” it has become even more important to foster cross-community dialogue. This happens by communicating, by spreading information, by engaging with one another. We cannot veil ourselves in exclusivity or cloaks of self-importance and shut ourselves off to the potential that lies in teamwork and the community collaboration that comes from a common love for the arts.

This post was written by Tina Acevedo of Dirty Pink 305.