Budget problems could cut public art in Washington buildings

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @Drewmikk

KING5.com

Posted on March 28, 2011 at 6:00 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Add artists to the list of people who could be hit by Washington state's budget cuts.

Facing a deficit of more than $5 billion, Governor Chris Gregoire has proposed eliminating the State Arts Commission.

Senator Mike Carrell said it's time for the state to stop requiring one-half of one percent of a public building's cost be spent on artwork.

"What you do when times are good is one thing, but these are the worst of times," said Sen. Carrell, R-Lakewood.

Eliminating the public art requirement would save about $2 million.

Sen. Carrell said artists and public art should not be immune from the cuts being made to education, prisons, social and health services.

Olympia artist Tom Anderson said the state would suffer if lawmakers went after public art.

Pieces of his work are on display in public buildings and schools thanks to state and local laws supporting artists.

"Imagine a world without art," said Anderson, "Without any kind of visual stimuli, without creativity."

A spokesperson for Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, the chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee, said the senator is "resisting" efforts to target artists in the senate's budget proposal.

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