Monday, March 30, 2009

PERSONAL EDITORIAL - My note to Alex...

by Marc Awodey

The Vermont Arts Council letter that was emailed today was a bit unusual... While I find it extremely distasteful to post the right wing TAKE IT TO THE PEOPLE website link, it was sent out by Vermont Arts Council director Alex Aldrich today, and since I'm reprinting his letter in full - and my email to him in response - the link is unavoidable. My apologies. As I wrote to Alex, I feel it is completely inappropriate for him to be involved in this issue as the Director of the VAC. His letter seems to begin with a statement of consternation that his "Arts Achievement Day" of lobbying efforts was upstaged by the real world, and then, in Aldrich's misguided effort to be "fair and balanced" (as Fox News is fond of being) he has legitimized the "talking points" of the far right. He finally concludes with the asinine statement "I truly don't care what your position ends up being..." If such is true, what was the reason for this  whole exercise, other than to gripe that "Arts Achievement Day" didn't go off as planned?

Your letter was so offensive Mr. Aldrich, that I'm publicly asking you to apologize to the arts community for sending it. If you are unable to see the error of your judgement in sending it, I submit that you are so out of touch with the Vermont arts community that your resignation wouldn't be a bad thing. The VAC under your leadership has simply grown more and more elitist over the years, and now it seems to care only about it's own lobbying efforts. 

----------------Letter From Alex Aldrich...------
  Midway through Arts Achievement Day this past week (March 25, 2009), word filtered out of the Vermont State House that Governor Douglas would veto a gay marriage bill if it landed on his desk.
  Remembering back to the Civil Unions debates earlier this decade, I quickly realized that no amount of quality arts activity taking place in the State House would penetrate the wall of news that the Governor's press conference would generate. Sure enough, in Thursday's paper, I searched in vain for even one reference to the dozens of artists, students, advocates, and arts supporters who put on such a creative show at the State House a day earlier.
  So...bowing to the inevitable, I have come to understand one key thing:
This year, one way or the other, it's all going to be about gay marriage--or civil marriage if you prefer.
  2009 is not going to be "the year that Vermont turned the economy around (or didn't)." It won't be "the year that the legislature finally passed (or didn't) a motion picture incentive bill that offers a transferable tax credit to those making a film in Vermont." It won't be "the year that the legislature increased (or didn't) the Arts Council's state appropriation to a level that matches that of the National Endowment for the Arts."
  Nope. This is going to be "the year that gay marriage passed the Vermont House and was signed into law by the Governor (or wasn't)."

I am forbidden by law to advocate for a particular position regarding pending legislation since I am the director of an independent 501(c)(3) organization that also serves as the official Vermont State Arts Agency. I am, however, allowed to offer fair and balanced opportunities to all people to educate themselves about issues of note.

Trust me, no matter how you feel about it, this is an issue of note.

Many of you have already made up your mind one way or the other on gay marriage. This post, however, is directed to those of you who have NOT made up your mind about whether you support or oppose gay marriage.

Go to the website for those advocating for traditional marriage: Take It To The People. (hyper link provided in his original note )

Then go to the website for those advocating for gay marriage rights: Vermont Freedom to Marry. (hyper link provided in the original note )

Still haven't made up your mind? Go back and do it again, and yet again if you have to. I truly don't care what your position ends up being. I just don't want you or your children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren to feel any regret that you didn't take a position and communicate it to your legislators when you had the chance.

As to where I personally stand on this issue, feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Best Regards,

Alex Aldrich
Executive Director
My note to Alex:

dear alex... did you actually read the take it to the people website???? check out their talking points tab to see the misinformation they are spreading. for "fair and balanced" you may as well post a link to the bill o'reily, or hanity on fox news.  by trying to be "fair and balanced" you are actually promoting an extremist organization that has very little actual support in vermont. it's like saying creationists need to be represented in schools to be "fair and balanced" about evolution... my friend, i'm sorry the marriage equality movement rained on your parade, but your response should have been a respectful silence. by PROMOTING the anti-equality far right (which i'm sure wasn't your intention) you've gone way out of your bailiwick. a personal - NOT VAC - note would have been fine, but this was a real mistake. PLEASE SEND OUT AN APOLOGY. i'll be publicly asking for an apology - or your resignation - on the vermont art zine website. you are not promoting the arts by asking people to become polarized on the marriage equality issue.