Sunday, December 13, 2009

Philly Cultural Alliance Strikes Back

From the inbox:

2009 has been quite a year for arts and culture in Pennsylvania. From ticket tax proposals to legislation that would have defunded the state's arts agency completely, it seems like we've seen it all.....until this week.

This past Wednesday, Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn released a "Stimulus Checkup" report on 100 different "silly or shortsighted" projects throughout the country. Philadelphia's acclaimed Pig Iron Theatre Company found itself at number 26 in the report for stimulus funding they received through the National Endowment for the Arts that helped to retain one staff position and seven actors' salaries for their wildly popular Fringe production Welcome to Yuba City. Another Philadelphia-based group, the Spiral Q Puppet Theater, found itself listed in the report.

Instead of focusing on the economic and social impact of Pig Iron and Spiral Q, Coburn and McCain took to attacking the content of these organizations' work, pointing to Pig Iron's description as a "dance-clown theatre ensemble" and their previous production Isabella, "starring a nude man contemplating his mortality in a morgue". Sprial Q fell under the header of being an "Anti-Capitalist, Socially-Conscious Puppet Show."

Cultural Alliance Chief Operating Officer Tom Kaiden argued for the Pig Iron and cultural funding Friday on Fox and Friends, bringing the economic impact argument to the television show. "The arts and culture sector generates about 5 million jobs in this country....we can't say that those jobs are any less important than other jobs in our country....The ability for the arts and culture sector to generate jobs in hospitality, in dining, in retail - it's a stimulus to other activity in the economy that matters."

In a recent alert to their members, the Pig Iron pointed out the impact of Welcome to Yuba City: "For three weeks in September in Philadelphia, around 200 people per night traveled up to our converted warehouse space at 5th and Fairmount to see Welcome to Yuba City. They ate at local restaurants, had a drink at the Festival Bar, shopped in Northern Liberties. Some folks came from out of town for the Festival and stayed in Philly hotels." They also asked members to contact Senators Coburn and McCain on the report - so if you support arts and culture, and support the impact of organizations like Spiral Q and the Pig Iron on Philadelphia, contact Senator McCain and Senator Coburn. Tell them that these organizations are anything but "silly or shortsighted."

To see what all the fuss is about, check out the Pig Iron's latest production, Chekhov Lizardbrain; and upcoming events at the Spiral Q Puppet Theater on Phillyfunguide.

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