A new state (for me), a new set of problems for historic and cultural organizations.
The latest blow for Michigan’s cultural heritage communities is that in this week’s State of the State address, Gov. Granholm has proposed cutting the entire History, Arts and Libraries state department, the only department she proposed to eliminate. She does support “finding other means to support these important functions,” but provided no details. It’s unclear whether the departments in HAL would relocate to to other state departments or would be cut. Certainly it would diminish the status of arts and culture on a state level, and possibly mean a decrease in grant funding, particularly for small libraries.
Another cut of interest to history folks is that of the Michigan State Fair, the nation’s oldest. The governor said that the state would not provide the fair (or the UP fair in Escanaba) any funding at all in next year’s budget, and proposed selling the fairgrounds, on Woodward and Eight Mile in Detroit. The fair’s director said they would look elsewhere for funding (though the major sponsors of the fair in the past have been GM and Chrysler), and proposals are floating up to move the fair to a more rural location. Though the Michigan State Fair is not as large or prosperous as, say, the Minnesota State Fair, the Most Awesome Event Ever*, it’s definitely a valuable cultural and community event that deserves some smart thinking and preservation.
Also in Michigan history news, in the Feb 24 special election here in Detroit, otherwise known as this year’s first mayoral primary, there are several ballot proposals up for renewal, including the millage for Detroit history, culture and libraries. I urge you to vote, and to vote yes on the cultural millage renewal.
*Which inspires me to do a Nina Simon-like post on What Museums Can Learn from the Minnesota State Fair.