Department of Bad Ideas, Lansing, Michigan
We may be jumping to conclusions here, but for a governor who has championed the strength of the creative class to rebuild our state, cutting the department who is responsible for much of that mission is unthinkable. As our state struggles along, there has been a lot of chatter lately about the fight for arts funding. At times it seems that when we most need it, opportunities for artist growth are dwindling. Part of Michigan’s recovery is through the hands of our state’s artists and preservationists — and we have to wonder: How much more damage would losing HAL do to our state’s artistic and creative future?
NOTE: "HAL" is the Michigan Department of History, Arts & Libraries. Governor Jennifer Granholm is apparently set to announce tonight in her State of the State message that she is eliminating HAL, as a means of balancing Michigan's budget. Her press secretary says, "Right now, arts are not a priority."
The current budget of HAL is approximately $52.2 million. The state's anticipated deficit is approximately $1.6 billion.
At the same time she is announcing the elimination of HAL, Governor Granholm is going to announce the creation of a new film production studio in Pontiac. The total investment in the studio facility will be $54 million. It is estimated that the studio will directly employ 1,500 and indirectly employ 3,500 people. Which government agency was instrumental in bringing this privately-funded project to Michigan? The Michigan Film Office. Where is the Michigan Film Office located? Let's check our handy chart on the organization of Michigan government. Oh...right. It's part of the Michigan Department of History, Arts & Libraries.
UPDATE: I called the Department of History, Arts & Libraries and spoke with Mark Hoffman, the Acting Director of that office. He told me that the Michigan Film Office was moved out of HAL a year ago, when a state tax-credit program for the film industry went into effect. I don't think this seriously affects the point I am trying to make, however.