In Their Own Words: Arts Organizations on the Importance of the National Endowment for the Arts
Click above to view the complete article on BroadwayWorld.com.
The overall assumption regarding an interest in the arts seems to be one of partisan politics. Its value is an often debated topic in a divided nation whose idealistic chasm grows wider by the day. For many, the fate of the arts remains a concern of those confined to what conservatives label a “coastal bubble.” A fringe frivolity to be cast aside in favor of funding more “practical” ventures.
Here at BroadwayWorld, we pride ourselves on having created space to promote the work and mission of arts organizations throughout the country. And in keeping with that mission, we recognize that the the depth of the national arts community hugely contradicts this notion of coastal elitism. In states both blue and red, a thriving cultural sphere is a central component of fostering empathy, awareness, and education, as well as promoting social bonding and providing important contributions to local economies.
Recent reports have indicated a proposed plan to de-fund the National Endowment for the Arts. Having narrowly avoided eradication since the Reagan administration, this institution has routinely shown great resilience in the face of conservative legislators and voters who believe that the arts are imprudent to our national well-being and fiscal budget.
Many in our nation have only recently become aware of The National Endowment for the Arts, as the new presidential administration’s proposal has reinvigorated an ongoing battle within the arts community to protect arts funding and education in schools and communities. Yet as many work to preserve this important institution, the true scope of its reach has yet to come into focus.
While much of the NEA’s most visible work appears to emphasize larger state organizations. promoting the development of new works and world-class entertainment in larger cities, the NEA’s funding reaches into every facet of our lives and extends into the most neglected corners of our nation.
From symphonies to dance companies to opera to music festivals and museums, the extent of the NEA’s reach is vast and deep, providing countless recreational resources, educational programs, and employment opportunities across the nation.
Partnering with multiple organizations, the NEA has been a boon to locales devastated by dying industries and works to provide opportunities that help to revitalize these fractured economies. It is also the only source of funding for folk art and oral history programs that preserve the nuanced history of largely neglected, rural and multicultural communities in America.
Endeavoring to reach more isolated communities is at the heart of the NEA’s mission. Extending all the benefits of a rich cultural life to some of the most under-served communities in the country, the works and organizations funded through the NEA have helped to restore economies in all 50 states, particularly in rural communities.
To better help our readers understand the numerous benefits of the NEA, we have reached out to arts administrators across the country, as well as the NEA itself, providing them with space to detail their own experiences receiving NEA funding and how the arts enrich communities and lives. In sharing their stories, these artists and administrators help to paint a portrait of a nation thriving as a result of continued support for the arts and the myriad ways in which the NEA serves to better the state of our union.
Statement from The National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities
“The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is operating under a Continuing Resolution for FY17, which goes through April 2017. We look forward to participating in the usual budget process for the FY18 budget with OMB and The White House.
The grants and programs that the NEA administers are powerful examples of how the arts are a vital and valuable part of our everyday lives. In communities across the nation, NEA-supported projects ensure that the arts are accessible to all Americans, through arts education, healing arts, and arts-based community development – as well as through projects that feature dance, music, visual arts, literature, folk and traditional arts, and more.
To learn more about the work of the NEA and to keep up to date on our latest news, we encourage you to follow the NEA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as check out our Art Works Blog and podcast where we highlight the artists and arts organizations that contribute to our culture. In addition, the NEA’s facts and figures page includes more detailed information on the impact of the NEA’s grants and programs and this fact sheet will give you an overview of how the NEA conducts its business. To learn more about the NEA’s recent grants in across the nation, visit our online grant search.
Lastly, visit NEA’s United States of Arts where you can read more stories and view videos from people all across the country who share their perspectives about the importance of art in their lives and communities. We continue to add to this map, if you have a story you would like to share, feel free to do so at this online form.”
South Orange Performing Arts Center,
South Orange, NJ- Mark Packer, Executive Director
“Receiving an NEA grant is the highest accolade that a nonprofit arts organization can receive. It is a validation that an organization’s work is in the national pantheon of artistic endeavor. And this recognition in turn helps leverage additional private and public institutional support, as the imprimatur of the NEA’s support means that an arts organization has met the most rigorous standards of artistic, financial and administrative excellence. The NEA is helping us present a world music performance series that will serve the diverse population of northern New Jersey. As a result, audiences can anticipate and enjoy a performance that connects them to their culture and artistic heritage. We are deeply grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for recognizing SOPAC’s achievements and aspirations.”