Can you believe we’re already approaching November? Not only do we have Halloween, El Dia de los Muertos and Diwali on the horizon, but we’re also in an election year. The city of Chicago and the state of Illinois are going through a whirlwind of changes this year and the upcoming midterm elections make it all the more interesting. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for – that would be silly. I will say this: Chicago’s arts scene might be at risk, so do your homework, research the candidates and get informed. And for the love of all beings important, go vote!!

Here are some interviews with candidates that you need to watch to help you inform your vote. For Illinois governor, be sure to watch the Pat QuinnSheila SimonRich Whitney and Scott Lee Cohen ones in particular. For U.S. Senate, you’ll want to review Alexi Giannoulias, and LeAlan Jones. I was lucky enough to get all of this information from Arts Alliance Illinois, an organization that supports the arts and arts education in Illinois. Traditionally, we have also gotten to know candidates through interviews on the WTTW’s program, “Chicago Tonight”.

Arts Alliance Illinois also sent the following information that we should bear in mind:

Funding for the Illinois Arts Council
One of the greatest challenges that the governor and General Assembly will face is the $13 billion budget deficit in Illinois. The state leaders who are elected on November 2 will determine the future of public funding for the arts, education, and other vital services.

In the last 4 years, Illinois’ investment in the Illinois Arts Council has dropped more than 60 percent — from $19.4 million in FY2007 to $7.5 million in FY2010.

Our elected officials need to understand that public support for the arts is a smart investment in the social, economic, and educational growth and vitality of Illinois. Arts Alliance Illinois supports restoring full funding to the Illinois Arts Council at $24 million.

Incentives for Creative Industries
According to the Illinois Film OfficeDark Knight brought $40 million in revenue to the Illinois economy, created more than 4,000 jobs, and supported over 350 Illinois vendors. Thanks to the Film Tax Credit, Illinois is an attractive site for film and television production.

The Illinois Film Tax Credit keeps us competitive and allows our growing community of film professionals the opportunity to thrive.”

Incentives for the creative industries in Illinois, like the Film Tax Credit, are a smart way to drive economic growth, create jobs, and sharpen our state’s competitive edge.

Arts Education
Strong leadership from our state government on policy issues — from graduation requirements to emerging issues such as establishing performance criteria for principals and teachers that include the arts — is essential if we are to strengthen K-12 arts education in Illinois. The active support of top-level policymakers can be a very powerful asset in creating statewide and local change.

Our policymakers need to understand the impact of arts education as a core academic program. It is a means for every child to find his or her natural path of learning. If we are ever to close the achievement gap and increase overall academic achievement in Illinois schools, arts education can no longer be treated as a privilege, it must become a right for every child.”

Having lived in several different cities and having worked for programs directly funded by tax-dollars, my heart remains loyal to Chicago. If you’re a citizen and lucky enough to vote, please go and exercise that right. While I was in school in Champaign-Urbana, we had great access to cultural programs due in part to our proximity to Chicago and due to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Chicago is a fertile ground for cultural affairs programs (and so many for free!) that we all benefit from, even if we don’t think about it. This post was dedicated to supporting the arts, but whatever is your issue: get informed, take time off work on Nov. 2nd and find your polling center. Please go vote and keep the arts thriving in Illinois!