Carlos Smith, Anna Eskamani will hold Orlando town hall on state of arts and culture in Florida


  • Photo via Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani

State Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna V. Eskamani will hold a town hall in Orlando this month on the state of arts and culture in Florida.

The two Democratic Orlando lawmakers will be joined by prominent voices from Central Florida’s arts and culture community, along with other elected officials and arts supporters on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the Orlando Repertory Theatre, 1001 E. Princeton St., from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The public can RSVP online here.

"Despite the positive economic and social impact of arts and culture in our communities, Florida ranks 48/50 on arts and culture funding," the town hall's event page said. "That’s not good enough, and it's important we come together as a community to discuss the impact of the arts, and prioritize a plan of action for Florida's 2019 legislative session."

In 2018, the Republican-controlled state Legislature slashed funding for the arts and cultural grants program providing money to 489 organizations across the state to a low of $2.7 million – down from $25 million the previous year.

"For every $1 we invest in arts and culture, we see $5 to $11 in economic activity in return," Smith said in a statement. "Last year, the legislature cut the Division of Cultural Affairs grant program 90 percent even while the state budget grew. It's more important now than ever before to come together as a community to discuss the impact of these actions on our local economy and prioritize a plan of action to reinstate funding during Florida’s 2019 legislative session."

Both lawmakers point to a 2017 report from the Department of State that highlighted the $4.7 billion in economic activity created by Florida's arts-and-culture sector, as well as 132,366 full-time jobs.

"Art is a powerful platform that instills values and translates experiences across space and time," Eskamani said. "It can help bridge gaps across class and culture, teach public speaking skills to the shyest of people, and create an avenue for expression for those of any ability. Art is also economically viable: The creation, management and distribution of art employs many, and attracts tourists. … We need the arts, and the arts need us."

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