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A Matter of Priorities: The City of Tulsa, Its Budget, and Its Arts Community

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Aired on Tuesday, July 15th.

This has been an anxious past few months for many in Tulsa's arts community. That community was very much caught off-guard by the decision of Mayor Bartlett's office to eliminate most of the City of Tulsa's arts funding. Alarming proposals to cut staff positions at the Tulsa PAC Trust, the Waterworks Community Arts Center, and both the Heller and Clark Theatres effectively galvanized supporters all over town, and these supporters quickly spurred the City Council to oppose the Mayor's proposals. Now -- with the final budget in place for the current fiscal year -- most, but not all, of the proposed cuts have been restored: the PAC Trust, Waterworks, and Clark Theatre will continue to offer events, classes, and productions. But the Heller Theatre, alas, will be dark this season. Will this just be a one-year reprieve -- or is the long-running, award-winning, and city-supported Heller Theatre going to become a thing of the past? On today's show, we are discussing the status quo as well as the future of city-funded arts programs in our community. Our guest is Ken Busby, the executive director of the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa. Busby is also part of a task force aiming to raise awareness about how and why it's crucial for the City of Tulsa to support the arts in a meaningful, ongoing, and uninterrupted manner.

Rich Fisher passed through KWGS about thirty years ago, and just never left. Today, he is the general manager of Public Radio Tulsa, and the host of KWGS’s public affairs program, StudioTulsa, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary in August 2012 . As host of StudioTulsa, Rich has conducted roughly four thousand long-form interviews with local, national, and international figures in the arts, humanities, sciences, and government. Very few interviews have gone smoothly. Despite this, he has been honored for his work by several organizations including the Governor's Arts Award for Media by the State Arts Council, a Harwelden Award from the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa, and was named one of the “99 Great Things About Oklahoma” in 2000 by Oklahoma Today magazine.
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