Local arts group must look locally for support
SIKESTON - Budget cuts are making it rough on a lot of groups and organizations and unfortunately Sikeston Missouri Arts Inc., is one of the latest victims.
While board members assure residents that SMARTS intends to continue providing the community with the arts, the group will not host the Cotton Festival of the Arts this year which will be disappointing news for those families who've enjoyed attending for the past five years.
"Due to our grant cuts the SMARTS Board has taken a realistic look at our current funding. The future of the arts is somewhat in jeopardy due to a funding cut by the Missouri Arts Council," said SMARTS Administrator Terri Matthews.
She explained the state money provided by the Missouri Arts Council for Sikeston Missouri Arts was cut 20 percent half way through last year. This year, it cut the state funding by another 33 percent.
"This is a result of MAC tightening its belt because declining revenue statewide has caused drastic cuts in its own budget," she said. "This affects all the art councils and art agencies that provide programs throughout the state.
"A recent letter from MAC stated that 20 percent of our grant award would be held in a reserve. In the event that this special reserve is not released, another 20 percent will by unavailable for our projects. This is what occurred last year and the MAC office is telling us they foresee it happening again this year."
What this means, Matthews pointed out, is that the cut has resulted in a drop of state revenue from $16,000 for SMARTS to $7,200. SMARTS' total 2002-2003 budget was $32,000 with about half expected to come from the community.
SMARTS now comes to the community, hoping residents will see the importance of the organization and be willing to help.
"SMARTS desires to continue to provide quality and meaningful arts programs so we will be looking to the community for support. We will need to switch to more community support that will remain stable each year," noted Matthews.
"We would like to thank those individuals who have already helped support SMARTS with their programs," she said. "Only with stable local support can we start making long-range plans. Our community has always been very supportive of the arts, especially when it comes to exposing our children to the many expressions of the arts. We, as a community, will have to pull together to raise funds in order to continue bringing meaningful programs to our area.
"SMARTS, as well as all of our local businesses, is committed to improving our community. The arts bring us a reflection of our past and a glimpse of our future. ARTS programs are a means of bringing young and old, consumer and retailing together. The arts are good for business they are good for everyone."
Matthews pointed out that in the past SMARTS has provided a wide variety of music, theater, art shows, murals, storytellers, photography exhibits, festivals, chalk art, poetry, workshops, southern food, artisans and artists to both the community and schools.
Most recently SMARTS completed the first part of a historical mural in downtown Sikeston by Willow Springs artist Michael McClure.
Plans are under way for providing after school art lessons for children and adults and this fall the group is bringing the St. Louis Brass Quintet to Sikeston High School for a concert. SHS workshops for brass students will be given as well as two elementary concerts.
"This is an opportunity for renowned brass soloists, clinicians, chamber musicians, instrument designers and master teachers to share their knowledge of brass instruments plus instruct and entertain the students," said Matthews.
Coming Jan. 25 is a theatrical performance of the life of Vincent van Gogh, featuring F. Reed Brown, who will portray van Gogh and his brother, Theo. Brown will present the public performance from 7-9 p.m. at the Albritton--Mayer Cultural Center, 506 S. Kingshighway. He will also do workshops with SHS students.
Anyone interested in supporting SMARTS is asked to call 471-3888. Tax-deductible donations and corporate sponsorship are available at several levels.
"SMARTS is arts for the community and we need assistance in continuing to offer alternative, educational and cultural enrichment opportunities for our citizens," Matthews said. "Every community is a better place to live when the arts are alive and vibrant."