Viewpoint: April 15, 2009

The governor and lieutenant governor have put forward their plans and suggestions for cuts in our arts funding and tourism marketing. Citizens upset with the proposed cuts made their voices heard by staging a protest on the Capitol steps. In today's tough economic times, with our colleges and public health programs facing extreme budget decreases, it would be very easy to discount arts funding as an outdated luxury.

But as a state that markets itself to the world based on our culture, our music and arts are anything but a luxury. Our Louisiana culture is a necessity. We understand the need to prioritize and budget our financial resources appropriately. The health and care of the people of Louisiana should be at the top of that list. But if dramatic cuts are needed to our arts programs and the programs that feed Louisiana tourism, we want to be certain that those funds are reapportioned responsibly.

Even without a challenging economy, some of our nation's schools were faced with the reduction or elimination of their arts programs. We want a Louisiana where our children are in contact with music, art, and theater at every level of their education. As parents, we can fill those gaps by taking advantage of community programs in our churches and libraries. If you are an adult interested in the arts, we hope that you would consider volunteering your time to one of these programs. We want a strong and fiscally responsible Louisiana, but we also want a culturally vibrant Louisiana. We have to find ways to have both.