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US Senators Call for Continued Support of NEA and NEH in Letter to Trump

Twenty-four bipartisan United States senators have banded together to write a letter to President Donald J. Trump urging him to continue funding the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Spearheaded by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the letter states: “These federal agencies provide vital support and resources to endeavors in the arts and humanities across the country that serve as drivers of innovation and economic prosperity. We encourage you to support the chairmen of these agencies, who demonstrate a continued commitment to supporting the arts and humanities.”

The letter also cites the US Bureau of Economic Analysis report that determined the arts and humanities sector is a $704 billion industry, accounting for 4.2 percent of the nation’s GDP. Signers include Bernie Sanders, Shelly Moore Capito, Susan M. Collins, Edward J. Markey, Tammy Baldwin, Christopher A. Coons, and Sheldon Whitehouse.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said, “As chair of the New York City Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, I strongly oppose any plan to cut funding to the NEA. The arts help us communicate the unsayable, envision a brighter future, and connect to one another in ways that almost nothing else can. Arts and culture are vital to creating the American spirit. Defunding the NEA would irreparably cripple the soul of our country. I stand with Senator Gillibrand in support of the arts.”

The complete letter is as follows:

Dear Mr. President,

We write today in support of the critical work being done at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). These federal agencies provide vital support and resources to endeavors in the arts and humanities across the country that serve as drivers of innovation and economic prosperity. We encourage you to support the Chairmen of these agencies, who demonstrate a continued commitment to supporting the arts and humanities.

Since its creation in 1965, the NEH has funded groundbreaking scholarly research, preserved essential cultural and educational resources, cataloged more than 63 million pages of our nation’s historic newspapers, and helped millions of young people grapple with the lessons of history. Additionally, both the NEH and NEA offer healing programs for those who serve in our Armed Services and their families, as well as veterans reintegrating into civilian life.

Also established in 1965, the NEA supports art and education programs in every Congressional District in the United States. Access to the arts for all Americans is a core principle of the Endowment. The majority of NEA grants go to small and medium-sized organizations, and a significant percentage of grants fund programs in high-poverty communities. Furthermore, both agencies extend their influence through states’ arts agencies and humanities councils, ensuring that programs reach even the smallest communities in remote rural areas.

Programs offered through the NEA and NEH not only help Americans express their values and forge connections between cultures, but they also serve as important economic drivers. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector is a $704 billion industry, or 4.2 percent of the nation’s GDP. The nonprofit arts industry alone produces $135 billion in economic activity annually and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue. The arts spur tourism, prepare our students for the innovative thinking required in the 21st-century workplace, and employ more than 4 million people in the creative industries nationally.

While it is very rare for artists or institutions, like museums, to secure funding from just one source, it is the funding from these agencies that stimulate strong private investments. These agencies collaborate with private foundations across the country to bring artistic endeavors to life. In fact, each dollar awarded by the NEA leverages nine dollars from other sources.

The ideals of these agencies are enshrined in our Constitution as a fundamental tenet of American civil society. Article I, Section 8 explicitly empowers the United States Congress to promote the “Progress of Science and useful Arts.” The importance of federal support for these activities inherently aligns with the founding principles of this country.

Federal support for the arts and humanities is essential to our education system, economy, and who we are as a nation. We hope you will keep this in mind as you consider proposals that support these fundamental American institutions.

Sincerely,

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Tom Udall (D-NM), Susan M. Collins (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Angus S. King Jr. (I-ME), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Jeanne Shaheen (D- NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D- CA), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D- CT), Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Al Franken (D-MN), Jack Reed (D-RI), Gary C. Peters (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bernard Sanders (I- VT), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

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