It’s no surprise that arts and culture workers are deeply concerned about the new administration’s impact on the arts. The President’s proposed budget includes complete elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) – programs that support creative communities of all kinds and at many levels. These cuts are alarming in their scope. The ripple effect would be felt throughout the country by so many Americans.
Government support for arts programs does not solely benefit an elite group of creative professionals. Funding from the NEA reaches both urban and rural communities in all 50 states, in every congressional district. In addition to direct funds for individual organizations, the NEA awarded more than $772,500 to Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA), to be redistributed by the state to fund its own arts and culture priorities. These funds provide nearly half of all grant monies available to the arts through GCA. Moreover, any cuts will have the greatest detrimental effect on the communities that need them the most. Many communities rely on programs provided by GCA, NEA and NEH funds as their sole source of arts programming.
As arts and culture workers, we see these the positive results of these grants everyday. Here are some recent examples of positive community impact due to NEA funding:
- Atlanta Shakespeare Company (ASC) provides theatre education to public schools both in Atlanta, and in other communities around the state. These programs provides jobs for teaching artists and arts programming in schools where performance opportunities and arts educations funds are limited. In one such production, an ASC teaching artist reached out to a student who was having trouble learning lines in a production to provide support. The artist discovered that the student, a ninth grader who had recently moved to the district, was unable to read, but wanted badly to participate because she loved the play. The artist was able to connect the student with additional school resources in order to learn to read and alert the student’s parents. The students parents were so thankful to the artist for noticing that there was a learning barrier. That student’s educational path was forever changed because a program, supported by funds from the NEA, provided a nurturing environment that ignited a passion for Shakespeare.
- The Center for Puppetry Arts utilized funds to increase accessibility for Title 1 schools through heavily subsidizing program costs. For many students, it is the first experience in their lives engaging with the arts, and the Center sees these programs as a way to instill a lifelong appreciation of the arts and creative thinking from a very young age. One teacher recently wrote to the Center, “Without the Title 1 school discount that you provided, I’m pretty sure very few of our parents could afford for their child to go. We are very appreciative….Today was the first time most (if not all) of our students have been to the Center, and they all want to go back!”
- C4 Atlanta has been the beneficiary of NEA directly, and through funds from Georgia Council for the Arts. This funding is significant; it supports the backbone of our services and increases our programmatic impact within the community. Artists of all income levels have access to our programs because they are subsidized through these grants. Our location in Downtown Atlanta, Fuse Arts Center, has become an anchor and a catalyst for other artists working in this part of the city. It has become a home to small creative businesses and has incubated new organizations. We have created a family of artists and creative workers engaging in everything from faith-based art to experimental productions. Anecdotally, we also know that we are the first point of contact into the metro Atlanta arts network for many of the artists who engage with us.
The power of the arts lies in its ability to tie people of diverse backgrounds together and to amplify their voices. So much of this power is tied to the networks art communities build outside of their own sphere and the roles arts often play in community and economic development. We know that the arts overwhelmingly increases quality of life by expanding the number of people enjoying artistic and cultural endeavors, creating jobs, supporting arts education, and enriching community identity. Additionally, the creative industries in Georgia represent a combined $37 billion in revenue, including 200,000 employed with $12.1 billion in earnings, and $62.5 billion in total economic impact.
Please join C4 Atlanta in taking action to #SavetheNEA. Here’s what you can do:
- Contact your elected officials in the U.S. Congress, who will vote on the final budget. You can send a letter directly to your representatives in Congress here: EMAIL YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS HERE
- Share this message with your friends, and encourage them to contact their elected officials in Congress, too.
- Join C4 Atlanta’s Advocacy Email List to learn more each month about this and other policies that affect arts workers in our community. SIGN UP BELOW.
Thank you for your support,
Jessica R. Caldas
Chair, Advocacy Committee and Member, Board of Directors