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Advocacy Update | Standing with the NEA

“The arts are for all of us, and by supporting these projects, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum, or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.”

In the United States, the new administration has floated a budget that calls for the full elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). As the only funder supporting arts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and US territories, the NEA is also the most critical sustaining engine for arts in rural communities. And the NEA is the largest national funder of artist residency programs, granting nearly $2 million to the field last year. 

The Alliance stands in strong support of the National Endowment for the Arts. We are advocating for an increase in funding and a rejection of any reduction in the size or scope of the NEA's programs. We encourage our network leaders to join us in advocating on behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts.

What you should know:

  • Though news outlets are reporting on the President's budget blueprint, his actual budget is expected to be released by April, at which time he will put forth his funding recommendations for the NEA. 

  • The President's budget request is one part of the appropriations process. The House and Senate will each soon begin work on their own appropriations bills and must come to an agreement on a final bill before submitting it to the President to sign into law.

  • The NEA provides nationwide grants that impact every congressional district, and the NEA also fuels the national funding structure that gives critical support for regional, state and local arts agencies.

  • There has been strong bipartisan support for the NEA for many years in both the House and the Senate.

What you can do:

  • Contact your elected officials and their staff and communicate the value the arts. Personalized communications that share the work of your organization and tangible benefits to your community go further than any online petition.
  • Strongly encourage your staff, board members, supporters and alumni artists to do the same!
  • Schedule in-person meetings with your elected officials when Congress returns home for weekend and recess breaks. Introduce them to your work, invite them to events and ask for their support for the arts. Be present at town hall meetings and other events where representatives are present. With Alliance member organizations in 48 states, local actions will have an impact on a national scale.
  • Review the 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Issue Brief for talking points and key data. Americans for the Arts and the Arts Action Fund are excellent resources for advocacy tools - including easy-to-use email templates.
  • If you are looking for tips on best ways to advocate as a 501(c)(3), we recommend the "Advocacy 101" guide from our friends at Performing Arts Alliance.

  • The Alliance of Artists Communities will be representing the field at National Arts Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill on March 21, 2017. Keep us informed of your own actions at a local/regional/national level so we can bring these stories to Washington!


National Endowment for the Arts Overview

For 50 years, the National Endowment for the Arts has provided strategic leadership and investment in the arts through its core grant programs for dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, local arts agencies, media arts, multidisciplinary arts, music, theater, visual arts, and other programs. The NEA awards more than 2,200 grants each year to nonprofit performing arts organizations for projects that encourage artistic creativity.

Every congressional district has received the benefit of a NEA grant. These grants have spurred the growth of arts activity in rural and inner-city communities that were previously under-served or not served at all. Americans can now experience high-quality arts programs, performances, and exhibitions in their own hometowns.

See the 2016 NEA Issue Brief for background information and talking points - or watch "The NEA: Serving Our Nation Through the Arts" below.

Read + Repost!

Kaplan, Isaac. "Who Stands to Lose the Most if the NEA is Eliminated." Artsy. 31 Jan 2017.

Rebuttals to Inaccurate Arguments Against the National Endowment for the Arts". Americans for the Arts. 26 Jan 2017.

Falon, Claire. "Here's What You Can Do To Protect National Arts and Culture Funding". Huffington Post. 25 Jan. 2017.

Bump, Philip. "Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending." The Washington Post. 19 Jan. 2017

Letter from CEO of Americans for the Arts, Robert Lynch. "Arts Advocates, Make your Voice Heard". 19 Jan. 2017.

Horwitz, Andy. "Who Should Pay for the Arts in America". The Atlantic. 31 Jan. 2016. 

"If you look at the more than 1,000 projects set to receive NEA funding this year, you can see the historical (and present) richness of American culture that all but demands to be preserved and supported. A small literary press in Hawaii that mostly publishes works by Asian American and native Hawaiian authors. A Chicago children’s theater that puts on performances that can be enjoyed by visually impaired audiences or those on the autism spectrum. Songwriting workshops to teach Tlingit children in Hoonah, Alaska, about their culture. A New Orleans film festival for Louisiana filmmakers. Art reflects the values, aspirations, and questions of a culture; it’s a mechanism for a society to articulate how it imagines itself. The projects funded by the NEA reflect the growing diversity—and beautiful complexity—of America itself."