Policy and Legislative Updates

Act Now to Save the NEA
March 16, 2017

This morning, President Trump released a budget blueprint that would substantially decrease non-defense spending in an effort to add $54 billion to defense spending. This reduction includes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), a federal agency with a budget of $148 million, 0.004 percent of the federal budget. It also includes eliminating other cultural agencies, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Service, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The budget blueprint also reduces funding to key U.S. Department of Education programs that support school partnership with arts organizations and would reduce funding to exchange programs at the U.S. Department of State, which engage artists in cultural diplomacy. 

While Presidents have proposed cuts to the NEA, this is the first time that a President has proposed elimination of the federal agency. Congress has proposed elimination of the cultural agencies, however they have consistently demonstrated bipartisan support in the final budget, resulting in a recent $2 million increase to the NEA. 

Just two weeks ago, Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY), along with Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) and Rep. David Price (D-NC), voiced support for the cultural agencies during the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee congressional hearing. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) submitted written testimony urging Congress to continue funding the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) stated that bipartisan support for the cultural agencies would likely continue and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) did not anticipate Congressional support towards efforts to decrease funding to non-defense programs.

This is just the beginning of the budget process for fiscal year 2018, and the president’s budget is non-binding. Congress must still propose and pass a budget. In fact, Congress must still determine how to fund the current fiscal year, as 2017 is currently funded through a continuing resolution through the end of April.

What Can Advocates Do?
Now is the ideal time to connect with your members of Congress and tell them why continued support for the NEA is critical to our nation and communities. It is crucial that all lawmakers in the House and Senate hear from arts advocates. 

  • Invite lawmakers or their staff to visit your public or community programs so that they can learn more about how dance is supporting healthy communities.
  • Make an appointment to meet with your lawmakers or their staff to share stories about how dance companies are making a positive impact in their districts and why NEA support is crucial.
  • Write letters to your members of Congress on Arts Advocacy Day, March 21. Dance/USA is once again a National Partner for this event. As part of the Legislative Planning Committee, Dance/USA worked with other national arts organizations to revise and update a range of policy statements provided to lawmakers about the issues that impact dance and the arts sector. 

Dance/USA continues to advocate for the field, meeting with Congressional offices and working with national arts organization partners. Find additional talking points about the value of the NEA, as well as other key legislative issues, by visiting Dance/USA's advocacy page

Calling All Dance Advocates

Recently, The Hill  reported that then President-Elect Trump would de-fund the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and would privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

Dance/USA Advocates for the Field

Dance/USA is already on Capitol Hill meeting with Congressional offices and appropriations staff. We are partnering with many national arts service organizations, guiding energy towards support for the NEA and preserving the scope and value of charitable giving incentives.

While in recent years, nonbinding budget proposals have called for de-funding the cultural agencies, Congress has shown great bipartisan support by continuing its support of the agencies. Last year, there were NO AMENDMENTS to eliminate the NEA. In fact, the NEA saw a budget increase in support of arts therapy programs for active duty military and veterans. 

The Fiscal Year 2017 budget is currently funded through a Continuing Resolution. It is unclear how the remainder of this year will be funded, let alone FY18. Congress must still propose and pass a budget for FY18 and President’s budget proposal is expected in the next couple of months.

What Can You Do?

There are concrete steps individuals and organizations can take right now.

1. Call or Write Your Members of Congress
If  your organization is an NEA grant recipient, contacting your lawmakers is important. Tell them how funding from the NEA has supported the arts in your community and made it healthier and more vibrant.*

2. Engage Local Lawmakers in Arts Advocacy
Do you have a strong relationship with your mayor or city council? Work with them to communicate with your Representatives about support for the NEA. Their voices add additional weight to the cause.

3. Share your stories with Dance/USA
Help Dance/USA be better advocate for the field. Take this simple survey to share how NEA funding has supported artists and arts organizations in your community. These stories will arm us for future meetings in Washington, DC.

4. Be Ready to Mobilize
Dance/USA will send out Action Alerts when a response is needed immediately. Timely responses will be important to demonstrate a unified front to Congress. 

*Key Talking Points

Remember, the arts have had strong bipartisan support. Thank your Representatives for their support for the NEA and take a nonpartisan stance in your message. 

  • Continue bi-partisan support with a budget of $155 million for the National Endowment for the Arts in the FY18 Interior Appropriations bill.
  • More than 33 million people attended live arts events through NEA-supported programs.
  • The NEA’s budget is $148 million – just 0.004 percent of the federal and budget and 47 cents per capita.
  • The NEA is the only arts funder in America, public or private, that supports the arts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. In fact, every congressional district benefits from an NEA grant.
  • There is a 10:1 ratio of public and private matching funds to every dollar received from the NEA, far surpassing the required non-federal match of at least 1:1.

Any additional questions about this or other issues, please contact Dance/USA's government affairs office