Monday, February 1, 2010

press releaseContact:
press@artsusa.org
202.371.2830

Washington, DC — February 1, 2010 — Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch gave the following statement on the release of the Obama Administration budget for FY 2011:

“At a time when the Americans for the Arts National Arts Index shows that because of the current economy support for the arts is at its lowest point in a decade, arts organizations have been relying on one area where funding has been on the increase—the leveraging power of federal funding for the arts and humanities. The Administration’s FY 2011 budget request of $161.3 million for the National Endowment for the Arts—while just a fraction of the $6.3 billion of direct expenditures for all arts nonprofits in the U.S.—is unfortunately a $6 million decrease from what Congress appropriated for FY 2010. We now turn to Congress to continue its investment trend in providing additional appropriations for the NEA. The FY 2011 NEA budget also includes an announcement of a new agency program called Our Town. We are excited to see that this important initiative is designed to strengthen communities through the arts. The backbone for the arts starts at the local level and having the federal government strategically invest in this kind community-based direction will spur further support for the arts. But why hamper the potential impact of this new initiative by reducing the NEA’s overall budget?

“The President’s budget also includes a number of new proposals to strengthen our education system and build a 21st workforce. However, the consolidation of the Arts in Education (AIE) program within the Department of Education’s new ‘Effective Teaching and Learning for Well-Rounded Education’ category puts us at unease and could lead to a diminished focus on arts education. This consolidation of the only identified arts-specific education program at the Department of Education seems to be in contradiction to the Administration’s previous strong vocal support of the arts. While the total available AIE grant funds are unknown at this time, it is an unbeneficial move at a time when arts education cuts are happening across the country. The arts are a proven integral part of every child’s development, preparing them for school, work, and life in the competitive 21st century global economy.

“The nation’s creative industries and arts workers are ready to continue to play their role in assisting with economic recovery, job training and creation, and the development of a well-rounded education that includes robust learning in the arts in order to provide workers of tomorrow with the creative and innovative skills they need today. The 5.7 million jobs and $166 billion in economic impact from the nonprofit arts sector alone hang in the balance. Further commitment from the federal government is needed to allow these groups to reach their full potential.”

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. With offices in Washington, DC, and New York City, Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Visit us online at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.