Lying-Double Time

So yesterday I attended a grants workshop held by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. It was an interesting experience on many fronts. For one thing, they are on a biennium grant schedule which means you apply this year for money for the next two years. Now for a laid back place like Hawaii, it seems strange that you have to get so organized you know what you are going to do for the next two years!

I can’t but think that they are essentially encouraging people to lie their butts off. Arts organizations make things up for annual grant writing, but it pretty much goes without saying a two year cycle essentially encourages people to try to fund their wildest dreams.

Now all this could be moot because of the (big surprise) arts funding problems in the state. When the arts foundation submitted their proposed budget in April/May, all their funds were frozen and remain so. There was a big uproar and the governor allocated money from health and human services earmarked for drug prevention for the arts foundation. (One of the criteria now for getting money is serving at risk youth)

Back in June or so I read a report that said Hawaii had the most per capita spending on the arts. (Which isn’t a heck of a lot given that there are only 1.2 million people living here, but still, a good proportion.) Ah how quickly they fall.

In any case, the people leading the workshop essentially said to live this year as if it were the last we were being funded because it probably is.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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