In a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, Americans for the Arts CEO Robert L. Lynch responded to an editorial calling for the elimination of the National Endowment of the Arts. The text of his letter appears below.
Thank you to Patrick Courrielche (“Save the Arts by Ending the Endowment,” Jan. 25), who made an excellent case for protecting the National Endowment for the Arts and even increasing its appropriations.
However, his letter needs to be read from the bottom up. Mr. Courrielche’s summary called for Congress and President Trump to create a robust, expanded national arts council, but that is in fact what the NEA is. He complimented the work of the NEA in leveraging private funding. This leverage of funding helped grow a nonprofit arts industry from 7,000 small arts businesses to 100,000 in the years since the NEA was created by President Johnson.
Mr. Courrielche made the case for an expanded mission to work with artists and arts organizations on business issues such as copyright law, web services, and improved distribution systems. He even indirectly complimented the NEA’s work on arts education since he apparently missed that the federal law that inhibited the growth of arts education changed last year. The new Every Student Succeeds Act renews the path for local arts education programs to be aided by the NEA’s robust leadership in how the arts fit into a well-rounded education.
With only a $148 million annual appropriation, the NEA’s investment in every Congressional District in the country contributes to a $704 billion arts and culture industry in America, representing 4.2% of the annual GDP. This arts and culture industry supports 4.7 million jobs and yields a $24 million trade surplus for our country. I hope that President Trump recognizes the vast contribution the National Endowment for the Arts makes to our nation’s economy and communities, as evidenced even in a letter calling for its demise.