Suppose you planned a film festival, went through the process to get a grant as seed money with the intent of creating a continuing cultural institution which would add to the local economy over the long haul, and then had local teabaggers and their political patrons throw a monkey wrench into the works at literally the last minute.

And suppose a number of people who first thought the film festival was a great idea and a creative way to contribute to the economy of a small rural town got cold feet because of screaming teabaggers.

Does this remind you of anything else? You know, an innocuous project created with the purpose of doing some good and then – wingnuts start screaming and craven politicians beat the drum for political gain.

Welcome to America in 2010.

The Show Me Social Justice International Film Festival is scheduled to take place in Warrensburg, Missouri from September 10th – 12th:

Mission Statement

The purpose of the Show Me Social Justice International Film Festival is to raise awareness of Social Justice Issues. Using a variety of artistic media, our goal is to impact our communities, both locally and globally, in order to inspire personal responsibility and positive action…..

….Missouri Valley Community Action Agency….

….This project is funded in whole/or part with federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided by the Missouri Department of Social Services, Family Support Division.  The funds received from the Family Support Division are all federally funded.

Apparently, Representative Denny Hoskins (r-noun, verb, CPA) isn’t a fan of cinema.

We received a copy of the following e-mail:

From: RoseMarie Hopkins [mailto:RoseMarie.Hopkins@house.mo.gov]

Sent: Thursday, September 09, 2010 4:43 PM

To: Patriots Info

Cc: Denny Hoskins

Subject: RE: Film Festival

Mr. [….],

Rep. Hoskins has just been notified by the Department of Social Services that the Community Services Block Grant funding the Show Me Social Justice Film Festival this weekend in Warrensburg is being recalled.  As a result of your contact with Rep. Hoskins, the agency has reviewed the grant application approved and determined that the actual event differs from the event described in the grant request.  As this film festival is not an appropriate use of that funding, all $99,540 is being requested back.

Rep. Hoskins appreciates you bringing this to his attention in time to address the situation.

Sincerely,

Rose Marie

Rose Marie Hopkins

Legislative Assistant to Rep. Denny Hoskins

District 121

Missouri State Capitol, Room 409A

Jefferson City, MO   65101

573/751-4302

573/526-9804 F

866/331-4073 Toll-free

Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder (r-where’s my bicycle race?) got into the act a few days earlier Twitter:

We got this instead of roads, bridges?! RT @United4MO: Incl “ShowMe Social Justice Intrntl Film Fest” sponsord by state w/stim $$ #tcot #pdk     3:59 PM Sep 7th  via ÜberTwitter  

Irony alert, anyone, anyone?

What did people in Warrensburg have to say about the film festival before this teabagger storm?:

9/9/2010 1:57:00 PM

Film festival rolls in Warrensburg

Jack Miles

Editor

….Warrensburg Chamber Director Tammy Long said Wednesday that the event offers the potential to draw outside revenue into the city.

“Any opportunity to showcase Warrensburg is a positive opportunity for the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center,” Long said.

The effort to create a buzz about the event is working, Gassen said.

“From what I hear it’s going well,” he said, with TV crews expected to come to Warrensburg from other cities. “There will be some hubbub out in the major markets. …

“It’s going to be a great weekend.”

“…Any opportunity to showcase Warrensburg is a positive opportunity for the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center…” This from the local Chamber of Commerce, no less.

Correction: until the teabaggers started screaming, it was going to be a great weekend.

Last night I spoke with representatives of the Missouri Valley Community Action Agency (MVCAA) and the Warrensburg Arts Commission. The MVCAA is based in Marshall, Missouri and covers a seven county area in a rural part of the state.

There’s a little bit of history when it comes to the arts contributing to the economy when it comes to federal stimulus programs:

There was an aspect of FDR’s New Deal that has been enriching lives for decades, even though many have forgotten – or never knew about – the Federal Cultural Programs of the 1930s, which were the first foray of government into the realm of cultural development by supporting activities not already subsidized or commissioned by patrons in the private sector. Rather than follow the lead of the private sector, the Federal Cultural Programs built on a foundation that emphasized a belief in the interconnectedness of culture in every aspect of life. Art and culture, FDR believed, should be available to all, not just the genteel upper classes who lived rarefied lives. Dreams, FDR thought, ought not be destroyed by economic hardship.

The WPA was established on May 6, 1935, and arts and culture were considerations from the get-go. As soon as there was a WPA, there was the Federal Project Number One, or “Federal One” as it was commonly referred to. Federal One was made up of five divisions –

  • The Federal Art Project
  • The Federal Music Project
  • The Federal Theatre Project
  • The Federal Writers Project and the
  • Historical Records Survey

Each of the five divisions was headed by a national director, and just one short year after the five national directors first met in Washington, some 40,000 WPA artists and other cultural workers – actors, musicians, composers, etc – were employed in projects throughout the United States.

Public art and cultural enrichment have been considered an appropriate use of public funds ever since, and it is considered a good use of funds because for minimal investment, we get a public asset that has exponential benefit because it can be enjoyed by and enrich the lives of many.

In the spirit of Federal One, the Missouri Valley Community Action Agency used $100,000 of their grant from the Recovery Act as seed money to establish the Show Me Social Justice International Film Festival in Warrensburg, Missouri.

A film festival, the reasoning went, could have long-term benefit and be ongoing, a regular, yearly occurrence that becomes a profitable draw to the community over time.

People in the community were excited, sponsors lined up and – most importantly – filmmakers became aware of the festival, and over 200 submissions poured in and they secured the rights to screen a Sundance winner that was filmed entirely in Missouri with a cast of all Missouri actors…pretty impressive for a maiden festival in a small city, miles and miles from the closest interstate highway and even farther from the closest commercial airport.

It is going to be sweet.

Too bad the teabag crowd, notorious for hating things that they don’t understand, decided to throw sand in the gears and cause problems for the nascent festival.

So Denny Hoskins (r) believes he got the funding for the festival pulled. I wonder what a number of his constituents will think about that.

Blue Girl contributed a considerable amount of research and content.