Federal arts funding works
To the editor:
Communities across America have a stake in the arts, including our own. 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.
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, the NEA recommended more than 2,400 grants in nearly 16,000 communities in every congressional district in the country. Forty percent of NEA-supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhoods. Thirty-six percent of NEA grants go to organizations that reach underserved populations: people with disabilities, people in institutions and veterans. The NEA has been able to do these things and more on a meager budget of $148 million.
President Trump’s proposed budget for FY 2018 calls for an elimination of the NEA, among other cultural agencies like the National Endowment for the Humanities.
We simply cannot afford to cut back on our federal investment in the arts and culture in our country.