5/17/05 NEA VOTE EXPECTED ON MAY 19! Support Congressional Arts Caucus Amendment to Increase the NEA’s Budget

ISSUE: On Wednesday, May 18, the United States House of Representatives is expected to begin debate on the FY 2006 Interior Appropriations bill, which includes funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The House Appropriations Committee has voted to approve flat funding for the NEA at the FY 2005 level of $121.3 million. Several Members of Congress were unsatisfied with the recommended funding level and pledged to work together on a floor amendment to increase the Agency’s funds. During floor debate, members of the Congressional Arts Caucus and Humanities Caucus will offer a bi-partisan amendment to increase NEA and NEH funding. The amendment will be sponsored jointly by Representatives Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Christopher Shays (R-CT), David Price (D-NC), Jim Leach (R-IA) and Norm Dicks (D-WA). The amendment will likely seek an additional $10 million for the NEA and $5 million for the NEH. If this amendment is not passed, the NEA will be flat-funded at the FY 2005 level of $121.3 million.

Last year, with your help, arts advocates were able to secure a $10 million increase on the House floor. For this year’s amendment to be successful, YOUR help is needed again to deliver a pro-arts message to EVERY Member of Congress. 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 are also encouraged to call your congressional office in Washington and deliver a verbal message.

ACTION NEEDED: Please CALL and/or FAX your U.S. Representative AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, but no later than 5:00 PM Wednesday, May 18 and ask them to vote in favor of the bi-partisan Congressional Arts Caucus amendment to increase funding for the NEA and NEH during the floor debate over the FY 2006 Interior Appropriations bill. Also, encourage your Representative to oppose any efforts to eliminate or reduce the agency’s funding.

HOW TO CONTACT YOUR U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Identify 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. To send a letter by e-mail, go to www.house.gov/writerep/. 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 Laurie Baskin at TCG at (212) 609-5901 (fax) or via email at lbaskin@tcg.org. Your letters and the responses you receive from your Members of Congress are very helpful when developing our legislative strategies. Thank you!

This Action Alert is provided by TCG. If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Laurie Baskin, Director of Government & Education Programs, at (212) 609-5900 or email lbaskin@tcg.org.

SAMPLE LETTER TO FAX OR EMAIL [Note: Please personalize your letter by sharing information about yourself and your organization. Let your elected official know how more funding for the NEA could help your theatre better serve their constituents and the public generally. Inform legislators about your company's unique and important role in your community and the specific ways the company can or has used NEA funding to serve citizens and visitors in the district.]

[Date]

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 respectfully 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 vote for the bi-partisan Congressional Arts Caucus-Humanities Caucus amendment to increase the NEA’s budget by $10 million. The amendment will also include a $5 million increase for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any additional funding 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. As you may know:

  • In 2004, the NEA provided direct grants in 99% of all congressional districts. In addition, 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 by voting for the amendment to increase the Agency's budget by $10 million. I also encourage you to oppose any efforts to reduce the agency's current funding. The federal government must continue its tradition of fiscal support for the efforts of theatre companies in protecting and preserving our heritage, creating a nation of lifelong learners, and promoting democracy. Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to your support.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

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