ISSUE On Wednesday, May 4, the United States House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee is expected to begin work on the FY 2006 Interior Appropriations bill, which includes funding for the NEA.
In March 2005, President Bush released his FY 2006 budget. It requested $121.3 million for the NEA – level funding from the previous year. An additional $15 million above the president’s request will expand the NEA’s ability to perform its core mission. A budget of $136.3 million for the NEA is an affordable investment in the arts, although it represents far less than the $170 million it received ten years ago and less than the American public want and need.
YOUR help is needed to deliver a pro-NEA message to EVERY member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, asking him or her to appropriate $136.3 million in FY06 for the NEA. The second page of this alert is a sample letter you can copy and paste on to your organization’s or your personal letterhead and fax to your Representative’s office in Washington, DC. You may also call your congressional office in Washington and deliver a verbal message.
ACTION IS NEEDED!
Please CALL or FAX your U.S. Representative AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, but no later than Tuesday, May 3! During the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee work on the NEA, urge your U.S. Representative to appropriate $136.3 million for the NEA in FY06. This budget figure would go towards supporting the NEA's mission to bring the arts to all Americans. An increase would ensure that the NEA can continue to support the creation, preservation and presentation of the arts in every corner of the country, as well as fund initiatives like Challenge America, American Masterpieces, Shakespeare in American Communities, Operation Homecoming, and Jazz Masters. Also, encourage your Representative to oppose any efforts to reduce the Agency’s funding.
Contacting Your U.S. Representative: IIdentify your U.S Representative and their contact information by accessing www.house.gov; type in your zip code; then click on the member of Congress to get their telephone or fax information. You may also call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask to be connected to your member’s office.
Also, please remember to mail, email or fax copies of any correspondence you have with your members of Congress to TCG at (212) 609-5901. Your letters and the responses you receive from your Members of Congress are very helpful when developing our legislative strategies. Thank you!
SAMPLE LETTER TO FAX OR EMAIL “ Urge Your Representative to Support a $136.3 Million FY06 Appropriation for the National Endowment for the Arts” Note: Please try to personalize your letter by sharing information about yourself and/or your organization.
The Honorable [Representative's Full Name] United States House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Representative [Representative's Last Name],
As your constituent, I urge you to support the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and its federal role in bringing the arts to all communities through a balance of grants to arts organizations at the national, state and local levels as you deliberate the FY 2006 Interior Appropriations bill. In particular, I strongly encourage you to appropriate $136.3 million for the NEA in FY06. I also ask that you oppose any efforts to reduce the Agency's funding.
A $15 million increase over the NEA's current budget of $121.3 million will support the nation's artistic infrastructure by providing cultural programs and services in the arts. It would help Chairman Dana Gioia continue to serve the American people through innovative programs. Among the programs in 2005, Shakespeare in American Communities has brought professional theatre productions to more than 550 communities in all 50 states, including U.S. military bases; Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience provides a unique literary experience for U.S. military personnel and their families; and Challenge America: Reaching Every Community uses the arts to enhance America's communities through grants for arts education, youth-at-risk, cultural preservation, community arts partnerships and improved access to the arts for all Americans.
In 2004, the NEA provided direct grants in 99% of all congressional districts. The NEA has helped spread the benefit of the arts across the nation through its funding partnership with state arts agencies, which receive 40% of its appropriated program funds.
The NEA is a great investment in the economic growth of every community. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $134 billion annually in economic activity, supporting 4.85 million full-time equivalent jobs and returning $10.5 billion to the federal government in income taxes. That's an 8:1 return.
Federal funding for the arts is critical to leveraging private funding. Private support cannot replace the leadership role of government cultural funding, especially at a time when all forms of support for the arts are down while needs are greater than ever.
The NEA supports life-long learning in the arts. The NEA's education programs have helped to sustain support in local communities for arts education, which has been proven to help close the education achievement gap as well as to benefit children and adults in many important ways. During these critical times, Americans look to the arts for education, entertainment, and enlightenment.
If additional funding is approved, the National Endowment for the Arts has the potential to become an even greater resource for arts organizations, artists, businesses, families, and communities throughout our district. Therefore, I urge you to support the NEA and a $136.3 million FY06 budget for the Agency during the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee mark-up. I also encourage you to oppose any efforts to eliminate or reduce the agency’s current funding.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to your support.
Sincerely, [Your Name] [Your Address]