Via Americans for the Arts, I drafted a letter to my Senators Cantwell and Murray, as well as to my Congressman Doc Hastings. Thought I’d share it here, and hopefully inspire some others out there to write in (just head on over to Americans for the Arts and fill out your own! ). I italicized the text that was generated by the form.
What Congressman Doc Hastings has never said, but is no doubt thinking.
As a constituent, I hope you will vote against any amendments further cutting the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts during consideration of the FY2011 appropriations package.
Though I agree with Congressman Hastings about the government being far too bloated, completely eliminating any support for the arts is a terrifying prospect.
The grandest cultures that are remembered by history are the ones who funded artists and craftsmen, commissioning and supporting their works. On the other side of the coin, some of the more terrifying cultures of recent centuries suppressed and twisted art to further their own dark philosophies.
Keeping art alive and uncensored in the United States is important. Though many artworks can be bizarre, many of them might become important future classics that will inform and inspire our populace.
We artists don’t need much to live on. We are not wasteful, and most of us live in a non-profit world. The successful among us end up generating wealth for investors and business-owners, and little for ourselves.
As you consider what programs necessarily need trimming or elimination, I hope you go easy on the NEA and the arts. The tiny percentage of federal dollars spent goes a long way in the hands of artists and their patrons, a lot farther than it seems to go with medical care or war.
Some blurbs from Americans for the Arts:
The nonprofit arts industry generates $166.2 billion annually in economic activity, supports 5.7 million full-time equivalent jobs in the arts and related industries, and returns $12.6 billion in federal income taxes. Measured against direct federal cultural spending of about $1.4 billion, that’s a return of nearly nine to one.
Federal funding for the arts leverages private funding. The NEA requires at least a one-to-one match of federal funds from all grant recipients—a match far exceeded by most grantees. On average, each NEA grant leverages at least seven dollars from other state, local, and private sources. Private support cannot match the leveraging role of government cultural funding.