Don’t forsake the arts
Published 9:45 pm Wednesday, March 14, 2018
To the editor:
Communities across America, including our own, have a stake in the arts. According to Americans for the Arts, 4.8 million Americans go to work in arts and culture industries. Additionally, the arts generate $22.3 billion in federal, state and local government revenue.
The major driver of arts initiatives across the country is the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts.
Email newsletter signup
The NEA’s goals are fulfilled primarily through direct grants, reviewed and recommended by panels of citizen experts, to arts organizations across the country. NEA grants provide a significant return on investment of federal dollars with $1 of NEA direct funding leveraging up to $9 in private and other public funds, resulting in $500 million in matching support in 2016. Why? Because winning an NEA grant sends a clear message that the grantee is operating an impactful local program of top national quality.
In 2016 alone, the NEA recommended more than 2,400 grants in nearly 16,000 communities in every Congressional district in the country. What’s more, 40 percent of NEA-supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhoods. About 36 percent of NEA grants go to organizations that reach underserved populations such as people with disabilities, people in institutions and veterans.
The NEA has been able to do all these things and more on a meager budget of $148 million.
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for FY 2018 called for an elimination of the NEA, among other cultural agencies like the National Endowment for the Humanities. Both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate have rejected this.
Please don’t believe those dusty, old arguments to eliminate these cultural agencies because it would reduce the deficit or the size of government. We simply cannot afford to cut back on our federal investment in the arts and culture in this country.