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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Economic Art 

By Sidney Hartley


August 16, 2019
Friday PM

According to The Midnight Sun’s article: “Dunleavy’s budget cuts from schools, seniors and pretty much everyone else: ‘I think they expected a budget like this’,” Dunleavy’s administration is to cut “$693,500 cut from the State Council on the Arts, eliminating the funding completely.” But while his objectives are to prioritize economic development by cutting out every single fundamental service to Alaskans, he dismisses the fact that the arts are directly intertwined with the economy of most Alaskan communities, especially those in the Southeast. So, in eliminating the budget on the State Council on the Arts, he is essentially deterring the tourists he evidently prioritizes above his own constituents. 

When visitors come to visit Southeast Alaska, they are coming for the artistic and historic allure. Without its presence, where would we be? It’s no mystery that the target of visiting merchants is art. Ketchikan is known for holding more totem poles than anywhere else in the world. This fact alone is what puts our community on the map. Ketchikan is abundant with local artists that sustain our reputation, bringing visitors whom contribute to our local economy. Some tourists will settle for mass produced bobbles and t-shirts, sure, but it is authentic, locally produced art which keeps Ketchikan a relevant place to sojourn. Art is the really the only purpose for tourists to show up.

Additionally, the presence of Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council proves to be a fundamental asset in sustaining Ketchikan’s economic development. From our annual Blueberry Festival in the summertime, to our winter Wearable Art Show, KAAHC illustrates reliable, constant community outpourings of support. In 2018, Blueberry Fest facilitated 162 booths, visited by approximately 8,000 lovers of art. Additionally, 1,715 people attended the Wearable Arts Show, netting $47,880. Grossed revenue for KAAHC in 2018 sits at $314,750.25. You can find this information in the 2018 Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council Annual Report. Our art council is embedded in the history of Ketchikan in that, its founding was in 1953, catering to the artistic needs of both locals and visitors alike. 

With this, I would like to remind community members that Dunleavy’s recent retractions on his vetoes are mere evidence of his realization of being under the gun of a recall effort. Supporters of Dunleavy should heed the reality of Dunleavy’s reputation of disregarding the needs of Alaskans, and remember that eliminating funding for arts is essentially eliminating revenue from tourists. You cannot stand in a bucket and pull yourself up by the handle.

Sidney Hartley
Ketchikan, Alaska


Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.


Received August 14, 2019 - Published August 16, 2019

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