State Lawmaker Wants to Cut Art Educational Programs

An artist could use state funding and a easel and hold a workshop. But ideas like that could be scribbled away, if State Representative Josh Cocroft has his way.

The lawmaker wants to cut the Oklahoma Arts Council budget 25-percent, every year until it's gone.

The state agency funds artist opportunities for students, like encounters with the Tulsa Symphony and opportunities with the Tulsa Opera. The Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council receives 8% of its budget from the state level.

The saved revenue would be used for other state needs like education.

Right now the new Hardesty Art Center downtown could host public funded workshops and classes, which could be cut in the future.

But the art community says this will hurt children and the state economic development. Companies reportedly consider the art community in relocating and expanding.

"They look at crime statistics. They look at educational opportunities for children and what is there for their employees, for their employees to participate in with their children in terms of entertainment, and cultural amenities," explained Ken Busby of the Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council.

Right now the debate is like a blank canvas. But it could get complicated, when lawmakers head back to the capitol in February.