When it was suggested to Winston Churchill during WWII that arts and culture spending should be cut to help pay for the war effort, his response was simple:
“Then what are we fighting for?”
Recently, President Trump released his budget outline for fiscal year 2018, including a call for the complete elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) — all as part of a broader effort to decrease non-defense domestic discretionary spending by $54 billion.
Four times since 1980, forces who do not value the arts and culture as a vital part of our nation’s greatness have called for these kind of draconian cuts. Every time, those of us who do understand that it is our culture that makes America great have risen to the challenge so eloquently stated in the NEA’s own motto – “A Great Nation Deserves Great Art”.
It is time for us to rise to the challenge yet again. Today’s announcement is just the beginning of the many next steps of the federal budget process. Our Oregon Congressional delegation has voiced bipartisan support for the NEA, both in the past two years of funding proposals, and in public statements made recently. Join me and hundreds of other Oregonians in calling on them today and urging them to fight for arts and culture in our state and nation.
Here’s how you can take action right now to respond to President Trump’s Budget Outline:
- Contact your House and Senate delegations. Urge them to oppose the President’s request and provide full funding for the NEA, NEH, CPB and IMLS. Senator Jeff Merkley serves on the Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. Outreach to Senator Merkley is critical at this time. And, if you are a constituent of Representative Walden’s please reach out to him immediately.
Here’s what you need to know about the impact of NEA funding in Oregon:
- In its fiscal year 2016, the NEA provided $727,700 in Partnership Agreement funds to the Oregon Arts Commission. These critical funds are used in conjunction with state legislative dollars to support grants and services across the entire state of Oregon.
- NEA and state funds enabled the Oregon Arts Commission to not only award 267 grants totaling $2,121,428 in its fiscal year 2015. These grants and services supported access to the arts, employment, arts education, community well-being and the cultural heritage of the entire state.
- Also affected by NEA budget cuts would be direct grants to arts organizations in each state. In its fiscal year 2016, the NEA made 32 direct grants totaling $795,000 in Oregon.
On top of the potential loss of $727,700 in NEA funding, the Oregon Arts Commission (OAC), is proposing cuts to operating support grants for the next biennium of 30% in response to potential budget cuts at the state level of $530,000.
That’s 30% less art, music, theater, dance, poetry, and more for Oregonians. This is a very real scenario on the table for the OAC in the current budget and the impact of these cuts would be substantial. It’s time for us as artists, arts patrons, cultural advocates and Oregonians to take a stand for art and culture in our state and our nation’s capitol.
I know from experience, emails and letters do not have the same effect as speaking with your legislator in person. That’s why we love our art LIVE! There’s no substitute for face-to-face advocacy for preserving the OAC’s budget and its impact on arts and culture throughout our state.
Register today for Advocacy Day 2017 and we will see you in Salem on April 24th!
Grassroots Advocacy Chair
Cultural Advocacy Coalition