During the week of November 14th, letters similar to the one below were mailed out to the Texas Senate and House of Representative members. Each letter indicated the number of authors that were in their district and the current estimate of the economic impact each author brought to their district.
Towards the bottom of the letter, we seek to have three items done during the 2017 Legislative Session in order to help grow and support Texas Authors. We are NOT asking for an increase in funds, only our share of what exists. Texas Authors are just as much a part of the creative arts world as is dance, music and art. It is only fair that we are able to share and enjoy the same benefits.
Dear Senator (Last Name);
I am sure you are aware that Texas ranks near the bottom for education, across the nation. With our abundant resources and talent, this is not where we should want to be positioned. We can turn that around with your support. One such opportunity has been ignored by the State legislature far too long: Texas Authors! Years of research, which continues today, has proven that reading to children at a young age helps them grow faster mentally and in turn improves their desire to learn. Texas Authors, write in so many genres that their books help children become successful students, but also our authors help them through life. As the Texas Association of Authors has coined, “Through reading people can become their own Super Hero!”
It is estimated that there are 8,400 Texas authors. That’s 8,400 small businesses which receive virtually no support from you. In your district alone, there are approximately «Postal Code» authors, bringing in an estimated $«State» to your local economy. They’ve been told by the GoTexan organization that unless their books are printed in Texas, with Texas made products (paper and ink) their books DO NOT qualify as a Texas-made product. This is, to put it mildly, shortsighted as no ink or paper is currently produced in Texas. Furthermore, the Texas Commission on the Arts has spent so far this year $7 million for supporting Texas art and artists, compared to only 0.013% (roughly $100,000) spent on writing and associated author programs.
Today, our Texas authors compete against approximately 1 million other authors just in the United States and are able, even without the needed unified Texas Legislative support, to add over $250 million annually to the Texas economy annually. We feel certain that with consistent, committed support Texas authors’ contribution to our Texas economy, in as little as two years, could grow to $1 billion annually.
To make this a reality we can all share in, I am asking for your help and support by adjusting existing programs to give an equal portion of funds to these 8,400 authors operating as small businesses. They not only support the economy but also give back generously to schools, libraries, and other literary organizations. This, in turn, improves the quality of education for Texans of all ages.
There are three programs which can easily be adjusted to give additional support to Texas Authors. I propose your funding and backing for the following:
1. GoTexan should set aside 10% of its budget for the promotion of Texas Authors and rethink the ink and paper barrier that exists today.
2. Texas Commission on the Arts should create an Author Tour Roster and make this available to schools and libraries in connection with the DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) Texas program and the Texas Authors, Inc. organization. In addition, the Commission should set aside no less than 10% of its budget for this program and others that promote reading, writing, and authors.
3. Create a grant to begin construction of the Texas Authors Institute of History Museum. This is the only museum of its kind dedicated to Texas Authors, past, present and future. It would provide the rich center for learning about the impressive authors Texas has produced including many which are familiar today like Laura Bush or March Luttrell and those who have contributed to making Texas the great state it is.
These three programs would expand the promotion of reading, writing, history, and all Texas authors, which would then positively impact the social, economic and educational value of Texas citizens.
I would love an opportunity to meet with you or your legislative assistant in person and discuss these programs in more detail. Furthermore, I’d like to discuss a day of celebration and support of our Texas Authors to take place during the 2017 session of the Texas Legislature.
Please have someone from your office contact me to schedule a meeting at your earliest convenience.
B. Alan Bourgeois