By Megan Staples, >diagnosis Development Assistant
We at the Arden believe in the power of the arts to strengthen communities, and we are not alone. The nonprofit arts industry in the U.S. generates over $166 billion annually in economic activity, employs over 5 million people, and returns over $12 billion in federal income taxes. Arden Theatre Company prides itself on creating more than just great theatre, and moved to Old City in 1995. Two decades later, Old City is a thriving hub of activity, with enough foot traffic to support an array of local businesses.
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will bring to the floor a Continuing Resolution appropriations package that proposes to cut dozens of federal agencies, among them National Endowment for the Arts (“NEA”), the National Endowment for the Humanities (“NEH”), Community Development Block Grants, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It is also possible that additional amendments to further cut or completely eliminate these programs will be introduced on the floor this week.
NEA and NEH dollars are the critical lifeline helping state and local budgets survive. Drastic reductions in funding will not only affect arts programs nationwide, but will decrease the incredible return on investment these funds yield for federal, state and local treasuries. As Americans for the Arts President & CEO Robert Lynch noted in a press statement, “The administration request of $146 million for the National Endowment for the Arts is a decrease of $21 million from the $167.5 million that Congress appropriated last year. The arts community recognizes the shared sacrifice being asked of all federal agencies to help reduce our national debt and is willing to do its part. President Obama had acknowledged in his State of the Union that it was time to prioritize and identify the programs and agencies that work and invest in them to ‘win the future.’ The NEA is one of those agencies. It helps create jobs and drive economic activity … and is part of the solution to returning our economic vitality.”
NEA grants support a wide range of projects, which include invaluable educational programming. Many Philadelphia-based arts education programs are currently at risk due to the economic downturn; on the other hand, the NEA’s recent grants have made it possible for these organizations to continue to support the region’s students. The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance received $250,000 from NEA in 2009 to distribute to eligible arts groups impacted by the economy. The funds redistributed by NEA directly benefited individual arts education programs, and allowed underserved students the possibility to experience the joy of the arts in Philadelphia.
It is our hope that you will help us communicate to Congress and President Obama’s Administration the vital benefits that the creative sector has on both our communities and our economy. The arts stimulate our economy; NEA and NEH grants ensure access to the arts for underserved population.
Please use the following link to tell Congress that you support the arts and arts education: Click Here to Email Your Representative.