National arts funding What’s the Deal Here?

by Laurel Meny

Pop quiz:
What do an exhibit by an unrecognized artist; a local orchestra performance; a staging of Macbeth at a community theatre; pottery classes for underprivileged children; and dance therapy classes for seniors have in common? Answer? They are all programs that could be cut from the federal government’s budget soon.

The current budget plan – which calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts’ $148 million budget; the National Endowment for the Humanities’ $148 million budget; the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ $230 million budget; and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s $445 million budget – would rock our cultural foundation to its core. And, while these numbers seem large, it’s really just a drop in the bucket (or .02%) of the total federal budget. So, why defund the arts?

Some would argue that these four organizations have grown to be powerhouses since their inception decades ago and don’t need government funding. But, to the contrary. These organizations rely on federal dollars to influence state, local, and even private funding that then trickles down to support an intricate network of arts organizations, educational outlets, museums, libraries, and public broadcasting affiliates. Just last
year alone, the National Endowment for the Arts sent $47 million to 50 states and five jurisdictions. These funds helped to leverage $368 million from state governments. And, together those funds were distributed through 24,000 grants, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Another way to look at the United States’ federal arts funding is to compare it side-by-side to other countries.

During this turbulent time, the Naples Art Association is fortunate to have the support of many donors through its 5 for the Arts program, which is a special circle of arts-minded individuals that are dedicated to providing core financial support to the Naples Art Association as it grants a home and resources to our youth and aging populations, persons with special needs, and local artists. These 500 generous donors commit to a tax-deductible gift of $500 or more for the next five years, making it possible for us to carry on our mission of promoting the visual arts within our community and enriching the local cultural landscape. By participating in this program, it also allows The NAA to develop and implement new programs to engage and inform the general public, reach underserved populations, and continue collaborations with Grace Place, the MS Society, and Lighthouse of Collier, as well as establish new programming. Please consider joining 5 for the Arts so that we may continue providing arts education for all.
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