Monday, March 26, 2007

Fragile and dependent living

I ran into a respectable leader in our community on Friday at the Starbucks at the Grand Bohemian (the Bucks to see and be seen). He asked me and my colleague with me what was pressing in our world and we threw out the potential backlash from the property tax changes coming down from state. Local governments like Orange County receive considerable amounts of money from property taxes that it then uses to do the basics like garbage retrieval to the quality of life issues like funding the arts.

When we both said that the property taxes were on our minds because of the potential implications to our arts and culture community's funding, the community leader quickly responded with "well we do have to have garbage pick up first." Yes, we do. Our point wasn't that we feel arts funding should be held above picking up garbage or other essential services Orange County government provides. Choices do have to be made when money is scarce and cuts are coming that our literally out of our community's control. The hope is that if and when you cut the "non essential" items that county governments do so proportionally, not by simply deciding what is more valuable to citizens by cutting services thought unimportant by a few altogether.

I read a piece in the Fast Company magazine (my favorite national magazine) on the future of newspapers that discusses the possibility of newspapers becoming public services in the model of NPR Radio. The news business has changed dramatically with technology, so the business model will have to change for newspapers to remain in existence. Central Florida's arts and culture community is so dependent on funding that can change in a matter of months depending on the political push. What business model do we need to look to for change in the future? Maybe we need a paradigm shift. What model would be best? Should some things just die to allow for the strong to survive? How do you define strong? Financially? Ultimately. What about strength of relevance?

I do know that our arts and culture product and presence have grown both quantitatively and qualitatively in my 10 years as a resident. Economic development is now recognizing the importance to the regions' total growth. But, if our local organizations are unable to provide the same product because of such dependence on funding outside of their control, will it continue to grow?

No comments: