The proposed, tired and old idea of eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts should be soundly rejected on a bipartisan basis. Here is why:
1. The NEA is the single largest national funder of nonprofit arts in America. NEA grants help leverage more than a 9 to 1 match in private charitable gifts and other state and local public funding.
2. The NEA also has an exemplary partnership with the states, with 40 percent of program funds distributed through state arts agencies.
3. With only a $148 million annual budget, the NEA investments in the arts helps contribute to a $730 billion economic arts and culture economic industry, including 4.2 percent of the annual GDP and supporting 4.8 million jobs that yields a $26 billion trade surplus for the country.
4. For more than 50 years, the NEA has expanded access to the arts for all Americans, awarding grants in your congressional district and throughout all 50 states and U.S. Territories.
5. NEA funding reaches small, rural towns through its “Our Town” grants and specifically helps our wounded soldiers and veterans with effective arts therapy.
To call this funding a handout is misguided. Federal funding for the arts is strategically invested by the Iowa Arts Council and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs through grants that support artistic excellence and improves access to the arts. The return on that investment for our state is huge. Please contact our lawmakers and let them know that you stand in support of the NEA.