Budget Dust: An Apt Metaphor for How Arts Budgets Fit into the Overall Budget

Jan 23, 2012


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Budget Dust. It is a catchy phrase that clearly conveys its meaning.

 

The Double-Tongued Dictionary, “A lexicon of fringe English, focusing on slang, jargon, and new words,” defines budget dust as such:

 

budget dust

n. money said to be insignificant when compared to other (planned) expenditures.

 

The first citation listing the term budget dust is from 1990.

 

A 2002 citation, quoting author Rebecca Cook, reads, “It seems strange to talk about $30 million here and there as mere budget dust—as the budget writers call it. But in the state’s $23 billion budget, $30 million is a bit like the loose change you find under your sofa cushions.”

 

Another approach that arts advocates have used to try to convey the miniscule size of typical arts budgets is to refer to the arts budget as a percentage of the overall budget, i.e. [fill in state arts agency’s] budget is the equivalent of 1/200th of a percent of the overall state’s annual budget.

 

In talking about how elected officials, budget staffers, and policymakers will not be able to balance budgets through cuts to arts, perhaps it is useful to employ the term budget dust. It is probably also useful to remind them that the arts have played their part in most cases by experiencing budget cuts, many times in disproportionate percentages as compared to other parts of the budget.






Image:
Alireza Teimoury via Flickr

Tags: arts advocacy, budget dust

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