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Americans for the Arts Submits Policy Recommendations on Critical Need for Arts Support as Part of National Economic Recovery Plan
WASHINGTON, DC, January 13, 2009—Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America, announced today its policy recommendations to President-elect Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress, as they begin consideration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. The nine recommendations detail how existing federal programs, as well as new proposals, can provide critical support to the country’s arts, as well as economic infrastructure.
The arts encompass an industry that stimulates the economy in cities and towns across the country. The Arts & Economic Prosperity III study reports that nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences generate $166.2 billion in economic activity, support 5.7 million jobs, and return nearly $30 billion in government revenue every year. The study also reveals that for every $1 billion in spending by these groups and their audiences, results in almost 70,000 full-time-equivalent jobs.
“This marks an unprecedented opportunity for our nation’s arts community to play a role in revitalizing America’s economy,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “It is critical that the needs of the arts and culture sector are supported by the economic recovery plan, so that they can remain a healthy and vital part of the fabric of our nation.”
Americans for the Arts calls on President-elect Obama and the U.S. Congress to support the following federal programs and proposals as they consider an economic recovery package:
- Include artists in the proposal for Unemployment & Healthcare Benefits for Part-Time Employees—Artists are disproportionately self-employed, and many work multiple jobs in unpredictable, episodic patterns. Allowing artists access to unemployment insurance and healthcare benefits would provide critical assistance to this population.
- Boost arts projects in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)—Provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to mayoral community development offices across the country, the CDBG program provides “brick and mortar” funding for state and municipal projects and is a primary government funding source for local arts institutions of all disciplines. Further streamlining of the application process would allow grant applicants to work more effectively with their municipal community development offices, and better prioritize cultural projects. Americans for the Arts joins with The United States Conference of Mayors’ call for $20 billion in CDBG funding and recommends at least $2 billion in arts-specific projects to modernize, rehabilitate, and construct our nation’s cultural facilities.
- Provide economic recovery support to federal cultural agencies—Americans for the Arts calls for an increase in FY 2010 support to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to $200 million, a similiar funding level for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences at $269 million. All three agencies should receive economic recovery emergency funds to increase current grantee projects.
In the economic recovery proposal, the NEA should be allocated at least $1 billion for formula grants, based on population, to be administered through its current Local Arts Agency program. Grants of this kind would allow speedily disbursed local funding to all arts disciplines, employ artists and the cultural workforce, and increase access to the arts in order to leverage spending by audiences.
- Include cultural planning through the Economic Development Administration (Dept. of Commerce)—The Economic Development Administration’s Research, National, and Local Technical Assistance grant programs are integral to a community’s thoughtful planning and economic development investment process. These programs should meet the increasing need for local cultural district planning and assist municipalities with developing the creative economy in their community.
- Increase cultural facilities support in Rural Development Program (Dept. of Agriculture)—The Housing and Community Facilities program funds the construction, rehabilitation or acquisition of “essential facilities,” which includes cultural facilities. Since inception of the Community Facilities program, approximately nine percent of funding has been directed to education and cultural facilities, an amount that should be increased to address the infrastructure needs of these rural cultural communities.
- Link Transportation Enhancements with state arts agencies (Dept. of Transportation)—The Transportation Enhancement program funds 12 general transportation enhancement activities, including pedestrian and bicycle facilities, historic preservation, and public art projects. Administered by state transportation departments, this program should receive an increase in funding and all projects should be developed and implemented in coordination with the state arts agencies.
- Create the Artist Corps—President-elect Obama’s proposal for an “Artists Corps of young artists, trained to work in low-income schools and their communities” is a proven strategy that provides jobs to artists seeking to share their skills, and provides mentoring and professional development to students, as well as jobs for individuals seeking work in the creative economy.
- Make Human Capital Investments in Arts Job Training—The National Governor’s Association has proposed a $1.5 billion increase to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth Programs and Wagner-Peyser Act administered by the states. We support that effort with an interest in expanding the services available to workers in the creative sector, through arts institutions that can provide professional development training.
- Appoint a Senior-Level Administration Official With an Arts Portfolio—The President should name a senior-level administration official in the Executive Office of the President to coordinate arts and cultural policies, and guide initiatives from federal agencies responsible for tourism, education, economic development, cultural exchange, intellectual property policy, broadband access, and other arts-related areas. The U.S. Conference of Mayors and others have made similar proposals.
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. With offices in Washington, DC, and New York City, it has a record of 49 years of service. 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. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.
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