week, arts advocates from around the country came to Washington, D.C., to
participate in Arts Advocacy Day. Arts Advocacy Day continues to serve as a
great opportunity to meet other arts leaders, share information and meet with
members of Congress and their staff. To those who were able to make it this
year, I hope you enjoyed your time on Capitol Hill. For those who were not able
to attend, I want to assure you it is definitely not too late to do your part
to advocate for federal arts support.
you know, President Obama last month proposed funding the National Endowment
for the Arts (NEA) for fiscal year
2015 at $146 million, the current level. NASAA and other sponsors of Arts Advocacy Day urged Congress to support
the NEA at $155 million. If you have not done so already, please contact your
member of Congress to urge that they support funding the NEA at this level.
fact, the timing of such outreach is ideal for two reasons. First, the House
Appropriations Committee has begun to hold hearings on the president's budget. Because
the NEA is operating without a chair (Jane Chu's nomination is still pending),
Congress has decided not to hold a hearing to examine the NEA's budget. As a
result, it is even more important that members of Congress hear from us about
the importance of supporting funding for the NEA. Second, on April 1, House
Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his budget proposal to Congress. Like
the president's proposal, Representative Ryan's is not a formal bill but rather a
communication from him to his Republican colleagues about how he thinks the
federal government should fund operations for the upcoming fiscal year.
proposal includes the following: "Encourage Private Funding for Cultural
Agencies. Federal subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the
National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting can no longer be justified. The activities and content funded by
these agencies go beyond the core mission of the federal government. These
agencies can raise funds from private-sector patrons, which will also free them
from any risk of political interference."
do not expect Ryan's proposal to be adopted by the House Appropriations Committee
when it writes its bill, but the fact that an influential House Republican
proposed such a policy is significant and should not be ignored. Therefore,
please consider contacting your members of Congress and urge them to fund the
NEA at $155 million. For helpful suggestions about what to say, please consult
NASAA's newly updated resource, Why
Should Government Support the Arts? to help you make the case for public
investment in the arts.