The report “Wild and Wasteful West Virginia,” released Thursday by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and state partner, the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy, stated that “Most taxpayers already know that a balanced budget is even nicer than a few pretty pictures,” when referencing funding for arts in the state of West Virginia.
Masquerading as a responsible, pro-business agenda, this report, in fact, targets small business economic development and the preservation of West Virginia’s shared cultural heritage by citing fairs and festivals as an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars.
These sensational statements are simply false. Fairs and festivals have been a long-time, in-state market opportunity for small businesses such as performing and visual artist-owned enterprises as well as farmers. They have been, and will continue to be, of great import to our state.
In a study completed by the Tamarack Foundation at the end of 2015, 70 percent of owners of West Virginia-based, artist-owned enterprises said income from fairs and festivals is important to the success of their small businesses. Twenty-two percent of the respondents said dollars earned from fairs and festivals are “extremely important” to the success of their businesses.
“So many of us [business owners] count on fairs and festivals for our livelihood. In addition, our surrounding communities are positively impacted economically during these times, having a ripple effect for the greater good. As a state, we need to focus on the development of artist businesses as an opportunity to increase state revenue,” said Christine Keller, owner of Chrizart Jewelry of Buckhannon.
This report that attacks participators and organizers of such opportunities harms the pro-business culture we are desperately trying to build in such trying economic times. It also targets a primary source of economic activity in communities across the state.
Beyond being an important source of revenue for the small businesses that set up temporary shops and provide entertainment at these events, fairs and festivals serve as a form of direct and ancillary economic impact through dollars spent at surrounding restaurants, shops and hotels…