Monday, August 7, 2017
Morris Arts Executive Director Tom Werder traveled to Capitol Hill this July to speak to lawmakers about the importance of the arts in New Jersey. Werder joined arts advocates from around the country at a press conference organized by Americans for the Arts, where they discussed data from Arts and Economic Prosperity 5, a recent study that measured the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry. Werder also shared the success of the recent Gateway Totem project, which celebrated the diversity of Morristown through a public art project supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Werder has allies in Republican Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen and Leonard Lance, who represent Morris County in Congress. Both congressmen have a strong track record of support for the arts: Lance is co-chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus, and Frelinghuysen, as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, allocated $145 million in NEA funding for fiscal year 2018.
Werder was excited to take the stage along with Rep. Lance, musician Ben Folds, Americans for the Arts CEO Robert L. Lynch, and other arts advocates from around the country on July 27. "Who knew that Ben Folds would open for me?" Werder joked during his remarks in Washington. "I used to say that I worked for an arts organization, but now I refer to us as a community-building organization—one that uses the powerful arts as a tool to bring our community together to create a place where people want to live, work, and play."