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Monday, April 10, 2017

Following the retirement of Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in 2016, the Cultural Caucus sought new leadership. Americans for the Arts is proud to now welcome pro-arts leaders Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Susan Collins (R-ME) as the new co-chairs!

Sen. Udall received the 2015 Congressional Arts Leadership Award presented by Americans for the Arts and The United States Conference of Mayors. The award, which recognizes distinguished service on behalf of the arts, is part of a series of Public Leadership in the Arts Awards given annually. Sen. Udall also annually leads the Dear Colleague letter in support of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and is the author of the CREATE Act to further the creative economy.

Sen. Collins, as a member of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, supported full funding for the Student Success and Academic Enrichment grant program during the recent passage of the new K-12 education bill (Every Student Succeeds Act), which can support arts education in K-12 schools. She also chairs the Senate Select Committee on Aging, which intersects with numerous arts & health issues, including music therapy for Alzheimer’s patients, and in February, she signed a letter to President Trump in support of the NEA and NEH.

The Caucus was established in 2005 by out-going Caucus co-chair Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). In 2005, they led the HELP Committee as Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively. The Caucus’ aim was and continues to be “to bring focus to the arts and humanities and the positive impact they have on our daily lives.”

In addition, both incoming co-Chairs understand the impact of the arts on their states and the country at large. This past year, Maine and New Mexico each received roughly $1.2 million in direct grants from the NEA. This funding supports projects like the Youth Mural Program in Silver City, New Mexico, and artisan-based manufacturing in Lewiston, Maine.