Save The ARTist (Creativity Plus)

There is a great deal of concern and hand wringing over saving the arts. Recently, the Westchester County Arts Council sent out a plea for us to write to our congressmen about major cuts to the arts. I did is they asked, knowing that in even the smallest way our voices have to be heard.

I got an answer back not from the congressmen but from his assistant. there was a lot of blame and finger-pointing in this letter, it still talking how great Westchester County is in comparison to other locations. I will copy and post her letter, but before I do: I have something to say. Yes, big surprise.

With all the talk about saving the parts one very important component seems to be forgotten:


I am a performing and teaching ARTIST. I make my primary living from working in the Arts. My discipline is Theater/Drama, Storytelling and Creative Writing. I do not create “lasting” art in Fine Arts, but I DO perform a service in the Performing Arts.

When you cut the funding for the arts, you are not just cutting out a sculpture or a painting, or a dance or theater piece, or a choral work, you are taking money out of reach of PEOPLE who are trying to pay their bills and survive. by making these budget cuts to save organizations, you are also then putting more people on unemployment. This fall, I have been unable to find a job, mainly because in my field there’s much less work. There are also more people out looking for any work, so even jobs that I could fit into are inundated by other people looking for work.

Where would we be without ones like Van Gogh?

Is it just me, or does this just not make any sense? A good friend of mine has put it  very simply: at this point in time, if everyone across the board and that means the big boys in the middle management boys played fairly, more people to keep their jobs. It’s part of what I’ve been saying in that we need creative solutions and problem solving in place of the reactionaries.

I do not want to be on unemployment. I want to work. I feel there are ways that more people can work and keep their jobs. Today on the news from NPR I heard that more than 28,000 postal workers will be laid off soon. What jobs will they be able to get to support their families?

It’s very easy to cast blame and point fingers. As a country, we seem to excel at that.

Wouldn’t we be better off if we were creative problem solvers?

As stated above, here is the letter I got today:

Thank you for writing to County Executive Robert P. Astorino regarding funding for the arts.

Please be assured that Mr. Astorino has read your message and he has asked me to respond to you on his behalf.

The county executive understands and appreciates your concern for the arts.  While developing the proposed 2012 county budget, Mr. Astorino and his administration have given the arts the same consideration accorded to every program, service, agency and facility supported by county government.

As you know all too well, this is a very challenging economy.  There is a critical need to balance a $114 million county budget deficit with a responsibility to provide essential services and property tax relief, protect Westchester’s neediest residents, promote structural financial reform and reduce government spending at all levels.  One of the major roadblocks to maintaining the funding level for Arts Westchester and many other worthwhile programs and services, is the failure of the public employee unions to agree to make a reasonable contribution to their healthcare premiums.  Westchester County’s union employees are one of the few groups left in the nation that contribute nothing to their healthcare costs.  This ever-increasing financial burden necessitates reductions in other portions of the county budget.  The county executive, since taking office two years ago, has attempted to get county workers to agree to the same level of healthcare contributions state workers make.  While there is a reduction in the allocation to arts programs, the County Executive’s proposed budget includes funding for the arts at $750,000.  This action is in no way a reflection on the outstanding quality of exhibits and performances presented by the arts community nor the talents and efforts of all who labor to bring these offerings to fruition.  It is instead, a part of many across-the-board measures which must be taken during these difficult times.

Your views and those of all who live and work in Westchester are very important to the county executive.  Your input is both welcome and valued.

Again, thank you for writing.


Janet Lokay
Assistant to the County Executive
148 Martine Avenue
White Plains, New York 10601
(914) 995-2127

Here was my response to Ms. Lokay:

it’s not just the exhibits and performances.

You forget a very essential part: the artist has to live, pay bills, and be part of the economic structure. By cutting the arts, it’s not just the end product but the people who live through the process. Two very different things.

I am a Teaching Artist and a performing artist. My entire life is creative and my livelihood depends on schools, libraries, community centers and more have funds to hire me and others like me. I live for the educational process that is part of the learning process…and it does not seem politicians realize this.

Schools may not hire a full time Theater Teacher anymore (I have my NYS Certification in Theater), but they SHOULD hire me as a consultant, which is what a TA (teaching artist) really is. I integrate my work into the school core curricula, and it enhances, not wastes, the teachers’ lessons.

I would love to have a conversation  about this. Yes, many of us produce art that is seen; there are many more of us who produce art that is part of the educational process, for ALL ages, and we’re hurting, trying to make a living.

My thing: instead of telling me why something isn’t working, why are we not doing problem solving around the negatives out there. I’d rather know what has been attempted, or will be, instead of what is not working. I  work a lot with my students, when I get them, on problem solving.

I’m serious about talking with Mr. Astorino.

She gave me her phone number. If I don’t hear from them, and if you know me at all, they will hear from me. I will let you know what happens next. I’m tired of the excuses. Let’s get off of  unemployment

With Love (Creativity Series)

With Love- A Project of Hope

The With Love Project, was crafted by a small group of talented artists and authors, that donates to Doctors Without Borders.

On March 13, 2011, the world saw the creation of an inspiring relief project, which has turned into an ongoing compilation of short stories. This project provides a message of hope for millions of people around the world. Conceived through the desire to help those who were suffering through an unforgettable tragedy, The With Love Project began.

Only days before ideas of With Love started swirling around the thoughts of each author; the earthquake and tsunami that impacted the lives of millions of individuals who lived in northeast Japan. These families lost loved ones and close friends, while capturing the world’s undivided attention for many months. This became a very emotional time for everyone who contributed to the project.

Catrina Taylor, approached a small group of talented writers on Facebook and asked them if they would be interested in participating on the project. As quickly as she asked, several writers stepped up to support the project, offering inspiring pieces. Soon after an artist offering images to create a cover and a publisher also volunteered their services to reach out to the masses. With Love, by Indie Writers United was published with the help of teamwork and quick collaboration to complete the anthology; along with an independent group of small press operators.

After several discussions, the writers had selected a charity. The charity was one that not only helped individuals locally, but to those worldwide who also needed the assistance for all situations. The charity picked Medecins Sans Frontieres, which is better known as Doctors Without Borders. All the money earned from the project is donated to the charity service. Once the anthology became available, Catrina and publisher-Sarah Barnard of Ethics Trading, were approached about additional releases.

From there, both Sarah and Catrina devoted their time in developing guidelines for future publications. They have since released The Dawn of Indie Romance in July; along with their most recent, After Dark. Both releases are signed, With Love, along with any future releases in the series.

After Dark presents a transformation in the series- which features several independent writers and artists- that includes: Stuart Nager (in both volumes). Lisa Vooght, Corrie Barling and Jude Robinson. Both, The Writing Network and Ethics Trading, recognized that art adds not only uniqueness to the series, but that it’s a valuable addition for the reader and sought pieces from visual artists that fit into the theme of this anthology.

If you are interested in learning more about the series, contributing either written or visual pieces, or how you can contribute please visit the  Facebook or G+ page.

If you would like to enjoy reading an enjoyable variety of stories for a good cause you can find all three books on Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and other book retailers.


With Love

Dawn of Indie Romance

After Dark

Previous Older Entries