Rob Rogers' June 24 "Brewed on Grant" cartoon put a much-needed spotlight on what is at stake in the ongoing state budget battle by showing Rosie the diner waitress fuming with Mattress Factory founder Barbara Luderowski over the proposed elimination of all arts funding.
While those characters' appreciation for the value of the arts to every Pennsylvanian was heartening, I need to point out that their indignation was misdirected to Gov. Ed Rendell.
In my years as an appointee of three governors on the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts -- two Democrats and a Republican -- I can verify that Gov. Rendell has been a steadfast arts supporter since the beginning of his administration. Despite this year's economic crisis, he has worked very hard to fund the council and related programs with only a modest decrease. Given the $3.2 billion deficit we face in this budget year, the governor's plan, with a one-half percent tax increase that expires in three years, maintains reasonable support for the arts and protects the thousands of jobs, local spending and tax revenues generated by the arts sector.
That can't be said about the state senators who unsuccessfully tried to pass a budget bill that eliminated all state funding for the arts and the state arts agency, as well as many significant programs in health, public education (especially libraries and early childhood learning centers) and human services. This is an unprecedented effort that ignores long-term economic and quality-of-life benefits.
To voice your support for these valuable programs, contact your state legislator through the www.legis.state.pa.us Web site.
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
The writer is the founder and former president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.