How to Save the NEA

Since January, we’ve been tracking the possibility that the U.S. government may reduce funding for or completely eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts from the federal budget. Earlier today, President Trump released the proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year, and needless to say, we’re feeling frustrated.

The drafted budget cuts the NEA, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Service and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which benefits PBS and NPR). Trump claims that by taking away the money that powers agencies like the NEA, he’ll be able to bolster the nation’s defense spending. But the NEA’s budget is only $148 million, a mere 0.004 percent of the federal budget. To that, we say “Make art, not war.”

Justin Peck’s Everywhere We Go, which premiered at New York City Ballet in 2014, is one of many projects made possible by the NEA. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

According to a release from dance advocacy organization Dance/USA, this is the first time a president has actually proposed to completely cut the NEA. Previous presidents have suggested a decrease in NEA funding, but none have gone this far.

It is important to note that this budget change is proposed. This is just the first step toward creating a budget for 2018, and at this time, the NEA has announced that its 2017 operations will continue as planned. It will also be accepting applications for 2018 grants. However, it’s not a time to be complacent. Here are a few ways you can get involved. Many have been recommended by Dance/USA, and some are our own.

  • Use this form to write to your Congressional representatives and advocate for arts funding. It’s super-easy. The letter is already written, and all you have to do is enter a few fields.
  • Invite lawmakers to your performances.
  • Invite them to community programming or outreach efforts that are put together by dance studios, schools and companies. These events highlight how dance creates richer, more vibrant communities.
  • Schedule an appointment with your lawmakers to discuss why you value the NEA.
  • Participate in Arts Advocacy Day on March 21. Contact members of Congress using the same form letter, or personalize it with your own experiences.
  • Share the cause with your fellow dancers, friends and family, and encourage them to get involved in any way they can. Stir up meaningful conversation and speak out about why the arts matter.
  • Use social media to positively spread the word about the good work that NEA funds.
  • Fill out this form to stay updated on what you can do to help.

 

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