Advocacy Articles

August 13, 2014 - 3:26pm PDT

Gubernatorial Candidates Support the Arts in Arizona

The majority of candidates for Arizona Governor responding to a survey relating to arts, culture and arts education favor additional support for arts and culture activities in the state. Most legislative candidates responding to the same survey would gradually restore pre-recession funding for the Arizona Commission on the Arts (ACA), and expressed support for arts education in Arizona's K-12 schools.

Arizona Citizens for the Arts (AzCA) sent the five-question survey to all candidates for governor on the Arizona Primary Election ballot, as well as to candidates in targeted state legislative districts with so-called "open" seats where no incumbent is running.

Of the six gubernatorial candidates who responded, Democrat Fred Duval, Republican Scott Smith and Americans Elect candidate John Lewis Mealer offered a direct "yes" answer to the question of restoring ACA funding. Republican Doug Ducey and Libertarian Barry Hess did not specifically indicate they would support restoration of ACA funds but encouraged greater community participation in supporting arts and culture and identifying other funding streams. Republican Ken Bennett singled out "elimination of sweeps into the general fund" (including funds set aside for the arts) and said more resources will be available to support arts programs as the economy grows and the state pays down its debt.

Responses were not received from Christine Jones, Frank Riggs and Andrew Thomas.

The survey questions were designed to explore candidates' beliefs about the importance of arts and culture resources to the state's development and the role the state should play in ensuring that nonprofits arts and culture are available to all Arizonans; whether they would support gradual funding for the Arizona Commission on the Arts; how they would encourage development of arts and cultural resources in the state; if and how they support arts education and state standards for it, and their personal participation and interest in arts and culture. A final question asked for a statement best reflecting their philosophy about public support for arts and culture.

AzCA also sent the survey to 26 candidates for House and Senate seats in Districts 11 (House and Senate), 18 (Senate only), 23 (House and Senate), 24 (House only) and 28 (House only). Nine of the 17 candidates for House seats responded as did four of the nine candidates in Senate races.

Not all of the 19 total candidates who submitted their responses would allocate additional funding for arts in education programs, but all stood behind the importance and value of integrating arts in education and in providing opportunities for students to engage in arts programs.

Of the legislative candidates responding, solid "yes" answers to refunding the ACA were predominant. Among other answers, Jay Lawrence (R - House District 23) deferred until knowing if funds were available but said he'd support restoration if a deficit wasn't created. Jeff Schwartz (R - Senate District 23) would support funding "as part of good decision making based on substantive data." Libertarian Zhani Doko (R - House District 28) said "art should be voluntarily funded by the private sector."