March 17, 2017

Dear  ,

As you already kno w, the new Republican administration's draft of the federal budget was released on March 16.  Among other drastic cuts, it recommends the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

This is not a new battle, as threats to the NEA have been happening on one level or another since the 1980s.  However, this is the first time a U.S. president has proposed zeroing out all funding for the nation's federal cultural agencies. 

The NEA's budget is just $148 million - less than one one-hundredth of one percent of the total federal budget. The budget may be small, but it's mighty.  Investment in the arts by the NEA represents community impact, jobs, infrastructure, tourism, economic development, civic engagement, and education. For every $1 of federal funds invested in the arts, there is a $9 return - it's a great investment that lifts communities in all 50 states.  The continuation of the agency has ramifications on state support for the arts as well, since 40% of NEA funds go to the states.

Ultimately, the budget is passed by Congress.  The good news is that there is bipartisan support earned from many years of relationship-building in both the House and the Senate.
And, this is only the beginning of a long budgeting process that will carry on until at least October 2017. 

Arts Wisconsin is working closely with our national partner  Americans for the Arts (AFTA), and statewide partners, on the issue of federal investment in the arts.   We must all work together to increase and deepen our advocacy and education for federal investment in the arts and creativity.  Please join us in the effort to support full funding of the NEA, NEH, and CPB.   Thanks for your good work and advocacy.

Anne Katz, Executive Director

Advocacy with Arts Wisconsin and statewide/national partners
National Arts Advocacy Day is happening in Washington, DC, Monday and Tuesday, March 20 and 21.  Wisconsin Arts Board director George Tzougros and I will be there to represent Wisconsin, along with hundreds of other advocates from across the country. We'll be hitting the halls of Congress to meet with all ten Wisconsin Senate and Congressional representatives about the power, benefit and impact of the arts in every Wisconsin community, and about the importance of public investment to help everyone, everywhere in the state participate and enjoy artistic and creative experiences.    

Together with our statewide and national partners, we will continue to create talking points, stories in the media, and points of action.  Watch for regular updates online and through social media.

In addition to Arts Wisconsin's work on Wisconsin Creates, a new state program to grow Wisconsin creatively, federal funding of cultural agencies will be the primary focus of our work over the next few months.The federal budget process has just started, and there's a lot of work ahead. Your advocacy and energy is needed and appreciated.
What can you do?  Plenty!
  • Right now, the most important thing you can do is to send a message to your U.S. Representative and to both U.S. Senators from Wisconsin asking for their support. Americans for the Arts has made it easy for you to send a personalized email message directly to your rep.  Start here to send your message, then ask your colleagues, coworkers, friends and family to do the same. 
  • Follow AFTA and National Arts Advocacy Day on social media .  Post, retweet, and share.   Use the hashtags #SavetheNEA and #ArtsAdvocacy .
  • Please stay aware and get involved - your participation at this time is crucial.  We'll be updating you in emails like this and online:
Resources and information
The cuts proposed by the administration for the NEA and 61 other federal agencies are not just about cutting federal agencies - they are threats to access, creativity, equity, community, history, and heritage that affect you, your family, your community, and all Americans.  Please speak up.  Loudly.  We need the voices of everyone who care about Wisconsin's, and the country's, future.

Thanks for taking action.

Arts Action Alerts are a service of Arts Wisconsin, Wisconsin's community cultural development organization.  Your support helps us promote the benefits, power, and impact of the arts and grow Wisconsin creatively, through advocacy, communication, technical assistance, development, and research.  Please join or renew your membership today!