Tag Archives: National Endowment for the Arts

An Inspiring Call to Action from One of NJ’s Own

Debate was completed yesterday on Representative Tim Walberg’s (MI) amendment to cut an additional $10.6 million from the National Endowment for the Arts in the House Interior Appropriations bill.  Several Members of Congress, coordinated by the Congressional Arts Caucus, spoke in support of opposing of this amendment and among them was Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District.   The House will vote on Representative Walberg’s amendment TODAY, so please write your Member of Congress in support of the National Endowment for the Arts HERE.  Looking for inspiration?  Here is what Representative Holt had to say during yesterday’s debate:

Mr. Chairman, last month I gathered almost 200 individuals interested in the arts and humanities to discuss National Endowment for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts programs. The turnout was impressive. But considering their eagerness to win endowment grants, it was also a reminder of how tight funding is for these critical programs.

My friend, poet Paul Muldoon, read some poetry to the attendees and reminded all, in his words, the NEA and the NEH are not properly funded. It is a national disgrace. Now, that was before the amendment that is here tonight that would cut the NEA even further.

The NEA and the NEH help ensure a well-rounded education, and result in a well-rounded society. Now, of course the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are different, but they are similar in what they bring to our Nation.

The arts and humanities inspire our children to explore their own creativity and encourage positive development in the course of their educational careers. The arts and humanities are a fundamental component of our society and they, indeed, warrant Federal funding. The arts and humanities help us know ourselves as a people.

Just a few weeks ago, here on this floor, the House approved a bill that increased the spending for the Department of Defense by $17 billion. The total funding for the endowments is hardly more than a percent of that increase in defense spending that was passed. Talk about misplaced priorities.

I’m reminded of the often told exchange between Scientist Robert Wilson, the Director of Fermilab, when he was testifying before the Senate and Senator Pastore. The Senator asked, with regard to a science experiment at Fermilab, whether it would help defend this country against the Soviet Union. Replied Dr. Wilson, no, Senator Pastore, this will not help defend us against the Soviet Union, but it will help make our country more worth defending.

This amendment is based on the premise that arts and humanities are a luxury. The author of this amendment to cut the NEA further says America is impoverished. Mr. Chairman, I’ll tell you what would leave America really impoverished is if we strangle the arts and humanities.

We’ve heard what the arts contribute to our economy. The Americans for the Arts, in its report, Arts and Economic Prosperity, details that the arts support more than 5 million jobs and generate tens of billions of dollars in government revenue.

Arts are good for our cultural development, yes. They are good for our society at large and good for our economic development as well.

I’ve heard from a number of my constituents on this matter, and nearly everyone has pleaded with me to preserve as much funding as possible for the arts and for the humanities. As one of them said poignantly, “A Nation without culture is a Nation without a soul.”

I strongly oppose this amendment and other efforts to strangle the arts and humanities in America and to defund the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Thank You to our NJ Arts Advocates!

Thank you to all the arts advocates who contacted their legislators, and a special thanks to those who made the trip to Washington, D.C. with us last week.  Your efforts made an impact on the continuing resolution for FY2011 funding. 

Though the final 2011 Budget Bill does not include the $167.5 million we requested for the National Endowment for the Arts, it is set at $155 million, which is well above the $124.4 million budget passed by the House in February.  Arts Education funding through the Department of Education was cut from $40 million to $20 million, though not entirely eliminated as was also recommended in the budget passed by the House.  As always, we will keep you posted about the State and Federal FY12 budgets as they develop. 

The time and energy you have dedicated to advocating for the arts and arts education play a key role in educating lawmakers about the importance of the arts.  However, there is always more work to be done!  Please join us for Arts Day in Trenton on May 5.  This year’s event will include our legislative update, the Art Pride annual meeting, keynote speaker Ben Cameron, and a “Meet the Speaker” reception.  Additionally, we invite you to attend the Governor’s Awards in Arts Education that afternoon to enjoy some of New Jersey’s best and brightest arts students and educators.  Registration is FREE, but space is limited, so please visit our Arts Day webpage for more information.

Thank you for your support, and remember: ART MATTERS.

Ask your Senator to Vote Against Cuts to the NEA

Last Thursday by 8 votes the House approved a $43 million cut to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) FY2011 budget.  This decrease will mean a decrease in NEA grants to New Jersey of $440,340

This FY 2011 appropriations package will be presented to the Senate shortly, so please take two minutes to ask your Senator to vote against cuts to the NEA budget.  Send a message directly to both your Representative and your Senator through our Action Arts Center, which is an easy and effective way to make your voice heard.

Please find us on Facebook for up-to-date information on the FY2011 appropriations package as the situation progresses.

Cuts to the NEA mean cuts to NJ

Wednesday morning an amendment to cut the NEA by an additional $20.5 million offered by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) passed in Congress.  This is in addition to the $22.5 million cut already included in the underlying legislation.  These funding reductions will mean:
  • A decrease in NEA grants to New Jersey of $440,340
  • A $43 million cut to the NEA for FY2011

Take action by sending a message to your Members calling on them to reject these cuts to the NEA. 

We will have more information as this situation progresses, so please visit us on Facebook for up-to-date information as it is received.

Rocco Says Hi!

NJ in DC on April 1

Many many thanks to the New Jersey arts activists who joined over 500 others on Capitol Hill to advocate for increased federal funding for the arts on April 1. So many of us benefit from NEA funding and do not even realize it!

Thanks go to David Gray of the New Brunswick Cultural Center, John Devol of Arts Horizons, Shayne Miller of Paper Mill Playhouse, Kristen Gongora of Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, Rodney Gilbert of Yendor Productions, Diana Scotland of Montclair who volunteers for Kenkeleba Gallery in NY, Jana LaSorte and Ondine Landa Abramson of South Jersey Performing Arts Center, and Julianne Zervopoulos of Westminster Choir College/Rider University.

Kerry Washington spoke eloquently at the Congressional Arts Breakfast. This youtube video doesn’t even capture her best moments when she talks about how it is a privilege to live in a country where you can be part of the democratic process by telling your elected officials about what is important to you.

Join us next year!!! I’ll share some other photos from out visits and a group shot in a later post!

NJ in DC

There were 19 of us in Washington DC for National Arts Advocacy Day on March 12-13. We spent Monday learning about the issues–from funding for the National Endowment on the Arts to tax law affecting artists and charitable contributions, to the reauthorization of NCLB or ESEA (No Child Left Behind aka the Elementary & Secondary Education Act). Monday night we heard Robert MacNeil deliver an extraordinary lecture at the Kennedy Center speaking of the role of art in our society and how if we stand back and look at the the “big picture,” artistic expression and freedom of such relates to fundamentalism abroad and in our own country. Heady stuff!

Tuesday we walked the halls of the US Congress, many for the first time! We saw 4 congressmen in person–Rep. Rush Holt, Rep. Donald Payne, Rep. Frank LoBiondo, and Rep. Albio Sires, and a host of legislative aides. We used the briefing from Monday to inform our discussions and also found time to talk about how the arts affect many different aspects of life–from healthcare to truancy rates to the revitalization of cities and towns throughout New Jersey.

It’s a rush–lots of information packed into 2 days, an inspiring lecture, the chance to network with other New Jerseyans you don’t often see. In our group was the President of the NJ PTA and his wife who were glad to talk up the arts because their children are all musically inclined. Speaking of musically inclined, we also had a shining young vocalist with us from Westminster Choir College/Rider University who represented the arts advocates of tomorrow!

Here’s the group from left to right standing–Bob Morrison of Music for All, Inc., Greg Perry of the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Carol Herbert–Chair of the NJ State Council on the Arts, Berda Rittenhouse of ArtPride, Shayne Miller of Paper Mill Playhouse, Catharine Vaucher of the Arts Council of the Morris Area, David Gray of New Brunswick Cultural Center, Paula Long of the Union County Division of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Kristen Gongora of Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, and Kristin Wenger of the NJ Arts Education Partnership. Kneeling from left to right are Patterson Sims of the Montclair Art Museum, Alan Willoughby of Perkins Center for the Arts, Larry Schmidt of the South Jersey Cultural Alliance, and Natalie Megules of Westminster Choir Collge. Not pictured are Vicki Snoy of Newark Boys Chorus School, Harry and Donna Capers of the NJ PTA and me–the photographer–Ann Marie Miller. The photo was taken outside of Senator Lautenberg’s office in the Hart Senate Office Building.