Let the people decide on arts


Back in the day, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard formed the Mayor’s Arts Advisory Council. One of us was a member for approximately two years. It made sense that money disbursed to local arts organizations was done so without regard to politics. Brainard would present the committee with what he believed to be the best division of available dollars – an appropriation of one penny from every tax dollar collected – and then the committee members would go item by item through the proposal. There were questions addressed to the mayor about what the money specifically would be used for, and on multiple occasions the mayor would be challenged, sometimes vigorously, not only on use but also on a specific total or totals planned for a particular group or groups. Brainard was the only local-government representative; the rest of the members were Carmel taxpayers and/or local business owners.

Now comes the notion that the Center for the Performing Arts administer the arts fund for the community.

Our response: We don’t think so.

The Center, which we hold as the crown jewel of our arts scene here, has enough to do, as does its board of directors, in keeping it chugging forward in a refreshingly positive way. Would Center staff be more attuned to the local arts scene? Perhaps, but a nonprofit should never be appointed “guardian” of local tax dollars intended for others of its ilk, and that’s no slap at the Center or its board. It could be forced into a compromising position, and for the Center we don’t want that. We believe Carmel City Council should relent at once and allow the mayor to restore his advisory committee. It’s worth noting that with the former committee, Brainard did not always get his every wish granted. It was a democratic process without regard for personal agenda. Let’s get back to that.