There’s nothing new under the sun, especially when it comes to how right wingnuts react to art.
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 short and 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:
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
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.
Rose Marie Hopkins
Legislative Assistant to Rep. Denny Hoskins
Missouri State Capitol, Room 409A
Jefferson City, MO 65101
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? Do you think the Lieutenant Governor is aware of the difference between the annual big bucks subsidy of a bicycle race and one time seed money for a small cultural event? Apparently not.
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
….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 a representative of the Missouri Valley Community Action Agency (MVCAA). The MVCAA is based in Marshall, Missouri and covers a seven county area in a rural part of the state:
Show Me Progress: Could you tell me about the film festival?
Melanie Corporon, Community Development Director, Missouri Valley Community Action Agency: Yes, when we received American recovery and Reinvestment Act money we were trying to look at ideas that would not only create jobs but would have have a lasting impact – something we could do over and, you know, either more training for people, more jobs, or an economic impact, because this was economic [crosstalk]…
Show Me Progress: So this would be, in a sense, a seed that might set up something that would recur [crosstalk]…
Melanie Corporon: Exactly.
Show Me Progress: …that wouldn’t need additional money in the future.
Melanie Corporon: Exactly.
Show Me Progress: But it would start things [crosstalk]…
Melanie Corporon: Exactly.
Show Me Progress: …and get things going.
Melanie Corporon: Yeah, we, we used this as seed money, basically.
In trying to think of creative ideas on how to engage community people in, our concern is poverty, overall, I bounced the idea off a state person and she suggested social justice as a theme. And she said, you know, a lot of communities do this, it brings a lot of people in, and it’s a good way to get the message, you know, of things about racism today, ageism, sexism, homophobia, lot of those things are relevant social issues that we have to tackle. So we did take that approach.
The other thing that we wanted to look at, what, with doing an event like this, how could we promote our area, draw people in, and have a lasting impact in tourism, business development, those kinds of things, you know. And we wanted to support local business, so we pledged to spend money in our seven counties, any money received. So, we did that.
We also wanted to take low income individuals, train them in hospitality customer service type training and then put them to work in paid positions at the festival.
Show Me Progress: How, now, how did the idea of the actual film festival, how did that, you, literally, get the grant to that. You proposed this to [crosstalk]…
Melanie Corporon: Yes.
Show Me Progress: Which agency did you propose this to?
Melanie Corporon: Department of Social Service Community Service Block Grant. Okay.
We received a block of money out of the stimulus and we have to write plans on how we’re going to spend that. So the bulk of that money went to hire staff to work with families to help them get through this economic times, through case management, paying rent, utilities, you know, helping seniors, all of that. That’s where the bulk of this money went.
But part of our work is community. How do we educate the community on the issues that families are facing?
I had gone to Columbia to the True False Festival and I was very impressed with their, lot of, you know, university people were involved with that and they’re a documentary based film festival. So that kind of prompted some ideas in my head about this. And so, like I said, I bounced it off some people and they thought it had merit.
Show Me Progress: And so this was approved?
Melanie Corporon: Yes.
Show Me Progress: Did you, was there any further vetting processes from agencies, just to check on what you were doing?
Melanie Corporon: Every quarter, how we have to earn the money, by doing certain things. Like developing a local planning team, to do that, we don’t get paid unless we make benchmarks. And so we’ve received three payments for this project.
Show Me Progress: For this project in particular.
Melanie Corporon: Yeah, yeah.
Show Me Progress: And, and this is federal money?
Melanie Corporon: Um, hmm.
Show Me Progress: But it’s administered through the state Department of Social Services.
Melanie Corporon: Correct.
Show Me Progress: And so at each point you met the requisite approvals.
Melanie Corporon: Yes.
Show Me Progress: And then, what has happened recently?
Melanie Corporon: Through our e-mail system on the web site someone e-mailed us and said that Lieutenant Governor Pete Kinder was blogging on Twitter….that he was basically really negative about this. And so…
Show Me Progress: This, this particular…
Melanie Corporon: This particular event. And yesterday I received a phone call from a citizen asking me about this, and she was very upset about it. And after I explained the situation, she really just didn’t like the stimulus, because when I explained that we also help people from being homeless, you know, making sure their utility bills are paid and things like that, it wasn’t all just film festival here. This is a small piece of the whole thing. She was, thanked me and said I, at least you talked to me about this and I appreciate that.
Show Me Progress: So, what, you’ve been informed recently of some, what had come to pass?
Melanie Corporon: Yes. Well my boss has been in Jeff City for the last couple of days for a, she was out of the office, and someone had called Senator David Pearce’s office and he had contacted our state association with questions, so I had drafted a response explaining what this was about. Two things, educating and engaging the community and economic stimulus for our seven county area. Those were the two purposes of the film festival.
Show Me Progress: Throughout this process, this is something that you just didn’t make up, you had to, you actually had to say, this is our plan, this is what we’re gonna do, and you went through the requisite approvals.
Melanie Corporon: Um, hmm.
Show Me Progress: So what has happened with the, [crosstalk] at this point?
Melanie Corporon: The Kansas City Star contacted one of my staff today and said that their understanding is that the State of Missouri has said that this is not allowable under ARRA [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] and….that costs will be disallowed. However, since then, we have talked to the state director and she’s explained that it will be reviewed and all financial expenditures will be reviewed and some be allowable and some may be disallowable, but it will be subject to review.
Show Me Progress: ….So at this point you’re, you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen with it. And is, the festival’s obviously starting tomorrow?
Melanie Corporon: Right, it’s too late to cancel it.
Show Me Progress: And so you’re, you’re going forward.
Melanie Corporon: Well, you know, we made financial commitments already, so at this point it’s ludicrous. We have filmmakers coming in, you know, things like that. So, what am I going to do if I don’t continue? So, the shame is now it’s gonna impact the people coming. We’re not gonna get the numbers we had hoped for. And to me that’s a real waste of federal money because now I’ve made these financial obligations I can’t…
Show Me Progress: But the publicity has gone forward. You think that this will have a damper on the attendance?
Melanie Corporon: Yes.
There’s some 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.
And the teabaggers are counting coup and thanking Senator David Pearce (r) and Representative Denny Hoskins (r), the intent to have a positive impact on the local economy be damned. But it’s not all about that with teabaggers:
…Too be sure, many of them don’t agree with the “social justice” aka redistribution of wealth theme of the festival…
But it’s certainly okay to advocate redistribution of wealth the other way, eh?
So Denny Hoskins (r) believes he got the funding for the festival pulled. I wonder what a number of his constituents who worked on bringing the festival to Warrensburg will think about that.
Blue Girl contributed a considerable amount of research and content.