In 1981, the National Endowment for the Arts was threatened with a budget reduction by then President Ronald Reagan. Last week, President Trump proposed a budget in which the National Endowment for the Arts is eliminated.
With that in mind, we share the below.
Eliot Feld's Testimony before the House Appropriations Sub-Committee, Chairman Sidney Yates, 3/25/81.
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee -
The Reagan Administration's proposed cut of endowment funds by 50%, resulting in a 5 million dollar reduction in support for dance, would be a calamity for dance, both as an art form and as an industry. The public has been assured that cuts in social programs will continue to provide a safety net for those who are truly in need. Yet it is a fact that dance in this country has never enjoyed the safety of a safety net - and the proposed 50% reduction in funding for dance threatens its basic vitality.
Perhaps - and I emphasize - perhaps, large dance institutions with influential boards of trustees and access to corporate and private foundations will survive this cutback, but many smaller companies and individual choreographers will not. This drastic and unprecedented reduction in support of the arts is a national policy that will blunt the cutting edge of dance in America.
Last week, CBS News covered the launching of the first of 37 atomic submarines. This submarine is 300 feet long and is reported to have cost One Million Dollars a foot. Although I may be in over my head in this area, still, I would like to provide to this committee three modest alternatives:
Alternative No. 1: If one submarine was reduced by a mere 5 feet, it would result in a 5 million dollar savings and support for dance could remain at its present level.
Alternative No. 2: If 5 submarines were reduced by just one foot - that is, to 299 feet each - support for dance could remain at its present level.
Alternative No. 3: If all 37 submarines were reduced by a mere 1.5 inches - that is, to 299 feet, 10.5 inches each - support for dance could remain at its present level.
I suggest these as only three of an infinite number of configurations, but I am convinced that a submarine fleet of 133,200 inches, as compared to a submarine fleet of 133,140 inches, would hardly be noticeable, since it is my experience that objects appear larger when submerged in water.
Mr. Chairman, the point of this naval whimsy is that what we are asking for on behalf of dance can be measured in inches.
Dear APAP Members and Friends,
President Trump's budget calls to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts completely. Now is the time to make our unified voices heard and advocate on behalf of the arts. We know you feel strongly about the power and impact of the arts in our country and in our communities.
What you should know:
- The NEA provides nationwide grants that impact every congressional district, and the NEA also fuels the national funding structure that gives critical support for regional arts organizations, state arts agencies and local arts agencies.
- The President's budget request is one part of the appropriations process. The House and Senate will each soon begin work on their own appropriations bills and must come to an agreement on a final bill before submitting it to the President to sign into law
- There has been strong bipartisan support for the NEA for many years in both the House and the Senate.
- Contact your elected officials via phone, email, letters and even social media, and their staff and communicate the value the arts. Share specific stories with them about how the work you do impacts your local community.
- Call the White House and state your opposition to the elimination of the NEA: 202-456-1111.
- Strongly encourage your colleagues, board members, supporters and audience members to do the same.
- Review these talking points from the Performing Arts Alliance (PAA) to help you build your messages. PAA is APAP's advocacy partner.
- If you have questions or are unclear about what a 501(c)(3) nonprofit can do to speak up about arts issues, please see these "Advocacy 101" tips.
- Schedule in-person meetings with your elected officials when they are in their local district offices. Introduce them to your work and ask for their support for the arts.
- Inform your audiences, through a stage announcement and/or a program insert, of the possible elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
- Sample Statement: Thank you all for coming to this performance. We appreciate your support. You may not be aware of the fact the president's current budget includes complete elimination for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. If you care about arts education and the future of arts and culture in our country, please contact your representatives and elected officials to express your strong support for the Arts and Humanities and their importance in all our lives.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. We encourage you to share this message.
Mario Garcia Durham
President and CEO, APAP