ASM Budget Amendment #1: Creative Works fund

The first amendment I will propose on the 14th is simple: ‘Create a line-item for “Creative Works fund’ with a recommendation for “Add to IB”‘

ASM, through the Finance Committee, currently gives grants for travel, for basic student organization operations, and for events. I would like to create a fourth class of grants, one for “Creative Works”.  When I’ve described this to a few people, they’ve said “Oh, an arts endowment”. This is somewhat accurate, but it is meant to fund not just art, but any creative activity that produces an artifact.

Here’s a wide range of what I think is appropriate; it’s not meant to be exhaustive:

– Art pieces (though not performance art pieces)

– Literary works

– Investigative Journalism pieces

– Compilations of Oral Histories

– Plays (though not performances)

– Contributions to Open Source software, ala Google Summer of Code ( http://code.google.com/soc/ )

– Film

– Data sets

– Photography series/essays

– Literature Surveys/Guidebooks

– Musical works  (though not performances)

The key to fund is the production of an artifact, that is, something that will survive the creator’s time on campus. As best we can insist while still being viewpoint-neutral, it should benefit society, and society will need to be able to make maximum use of the work. The guidelines for the fund should insist on the intellectual property created are licensed under some sort of “Creative Commons” agreement, in order to secure that benefit to society.

This is not meant to be a scholarship, which is prohibited by F-50. Instead, it is recognition that these sorts of endeavors enrich campus and society, and the time and materials to create them are not free.

At the moment, I want to start small, and only allocate a fraction of what we currently allocate the rest of the FC’s fund. I would prefer that we use new money, so as not to reduce the Travel/Event/Ops grant pool. It is an experiment, and future councils will need to evaluate its utility to campus.

The Finance Committee should establish criteria for the fund, to be approved by council. Off the top of my head, there should be a strict prohibition on using this for any sort of University credit. Additionally, priority should be given to those who can find matching funds. This is considerably easier to do when you’ve got the first half of your funding lined up, so ASM should not be afraid to be the first to step up, and enable applicants to go to other funding sources and say “Yes, I’ve got half of my funding guaranteed.” Additionally, I think there is significant opportunity to find matching funding from WARF, the WAA, or the UW Foundation, if ASM commits to this funding and puts its money on the table first.

For most students, college is the first time in their lives that they assembled all of the skills necessary to produce something truly of value. It is also a time when they are introduced to entirely new ideas and ways of thinking, and when their creative impulses and enthusiasm are at their maximum.  There is no better time to harness this energy. This fund is truly the Wisconsin Idea in action, and I hope other council members will support it.

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