May 2, 2016
NASAA Testimony on NEA Budget
Last month, NASAA provided written testimony to the congressional subcommittee responsible for the National Endowment for the Arts budget. It was another opportunity to reinforce to federal legislators the value that the arts endowment and state arts agencies bring to communities across the nation. I’d like to share it with you.
To the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and
U.S. House of Representatives
April 18, 2016
Chairman Calvert, Ranking Member McCollum and members of the Committee, thank you for the invitation to prepare this testimony regarding federal appropriations for the National Endowment for the Arts in fiscal year 2017. I am Pam Breaux, Chief Executive Officer of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), the organization representing the state and jurisdictional arts agencies of the United States. Today, I urge the committee to support funding the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) at $155 million in FY2017.
In FY2016, this Committee supported an increase of $2 million in funding for the agency. The states and NASAA are extremely grateful to the Committee for this, particularly given the limitations Congress faces as a result of sequestration. As you look to the next budget, NASAA hopes you will once again consider increasing funding for the NEA, which continues to make a substantial impact in communities throughout the United States, even while operating with a budget that is more than $19 million (12%) lower than in FY2010.
In asking for an increase in funding for the NEA, it is important to acknowledge the continued bipartisan support that this Committee, and Congress as a whole, has demonstrated for state arts agencies. As you know, through a highly effective federal-state partnership, the NEA distributes 40% of its programmatic funds to state and regional arts agencies each year. The resulting $47.3 million in FY2016, helped to leverage additional public and private investment in the arts, empowered states and regions to address their unique priorities, and served far more constituents than federal funds alone could reach. The report accompanying last year’s Consolidated Appropriations Act affirmed Congress’s support for this important partnership and the 40% allocation. We sincerely thank the Committee for this acknowledgement.
State arts agencies use their share of NEA funds ($39 million last year), combined with funds from state legislatures, to support approximately 21,000 grants to arts organizations, civic organizations, schools and artists in more than 4,400 communities across the United States. Twenty-five percent of state arts agencies’ grant awards go to nonmetropolitan areas, supporting programs that strengthen the civic and economic sustainability of rural America. Twenty-nine percent of state arts agencies’ grant dollars go to arts education, fostering student success in and out of school and providing the critical thinking, creativity and communications skills needed to meet the demands of today’s competitive work force.
Congress’s continued support of the 40% formula is essential to state arts agencies, boosting their ability to drive innovation in their states. Throughout the country, state arts agencies play significant roles in shaping education policy, stimulating economic growth and helping communities thrive as rewarding and productive places to live, conduct business, visit and raise a family. Should Congress support an increase for the NEA, state arts agencies will be in a position to expand their meaningful role helping in every congressional district have full opportunities to experience the economic, civic, educational and cultural benefits that the arts offer.
NASAA and state arts agencies also applaud the work of the NEA in its direct program areas and partnerships with other federal agencies. The NEA’s direct grants support thousands of concerts, performances, readings and exhibitions, with annual live attendance of nearly 20 million people. Especially noteworthy partnerships include the NEA’s work with the Department of Defense (to support arts therapy in healing programs at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the National Intrepid Center of Excellence) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (to track the economic contributions of arts and cultural production to the U.S. gross domestic product and export portfolio).
In the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 Committee Report, this Committee urged state arts agencies to explore opportunities to work with the military. NASAA’s newly released study on state arts and military initiatives recounts that numerous states are either already implementing or considering such programs. In fact, a significant majority (45) of state arts agencies are pursuing at least one program, policy, service or partnership related to serving military and veteran populations through the arts. Further, 72 percent are actively engaged in or considering partnerships to facilitate the work. We look forward to supporting states as they continue this important, ground-breaking work.
Thank you for your consideration. NASAA looks forward to continuing to work productively with this Committee, and we stand ready to serve as a resource to you.
Chief Executive Officer
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
In this Issue
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