The recently proposed budget from the Trump Administration calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and severe cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. These are all programs that support America’s creativity and curiosity, and whose funding catalyzes new investment in communities across America. These cuts are part of an unprecedented set of cuts that will, collectively, impact communities and people who need these programs the most; specifically, underinvested urban neighborhoods and rural towns.
Furthermore, the drastic cuts and elimination of funding to programs like the Community Development Block Grants and Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, and important infrastructure like the Delta and Appalachia Regional Authorities will hurt our partners in community development and rural economic development at a time when their services are needed more than ever before.
The National Endowment for the Arts operates in every congressional district, funds organizations large and small, in rural and urban settings. We at Springboard for the Arts know the impact that NEA funding can have in our work and for the communities we serve, and we stand firmly in support of continued and increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and its fellow programs.
In the last 5 years, funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Has supported our work in significant ways. Funding from the NEA has allowed us to:
-Open an office in Fergus Falls, MN, a town of 13,000 people on the western edge of this state. This office now runs a residency program in a vacant property, provides small business development training, and supports people to plan for the future of their economy and community. The money the NEA has put into this effort has helped us leverage 10 times that amount in new private investment. These funds have directly supported a small community in Minnesota, and helped us create jobs and programs that directly contribute to attracting and retaining young people.
-Work with business districts across the country to help them connect with local artists to use creative strategies to draw people, attention and dollars to support local businesses directly. This funding is directly about supporting local business owners to do better and contribute more to their local economy and community. NEA support has helped us create a resource for others to do this work, which we share freely: http://springboardexchange.org/guide-for-business-districts/
Investment that leverages 10x private dollars. Direct impact on local economies. Talent attraction and retention. Small business development. The NEA achieves this work through deep and broad partnerships, and through funding work that builds powerful social connection, strengthens identity, changes personal and community narrative, amplifies local agency and power, and helps people make meaning and connect to their humanity.
There have been sustained attacks on Federal funding of the arts and humanities over the years, and this is the time to act again. This budget proposal is just that, a proposal, which means It is important for people who care about arts and arts funding to contact their representatives. Americans for the Arts is currently running a media campaign #SaveTheNEA and has an easy form to contact your representatives: bit.ly/2k1vrd3
MORE: Executive Director Laura Zabel in the Christian Science Monitor on the impact of NEA funding: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2017/0317/What-America-without-the-NEA-and-NEH-would-look-like-and-why-that-matters