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Statement from Metro Arts on the Proposed Elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts in the Federal Budget

Jennifer Cole, 615-969-6424

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has for half a century supported cultural organizations, artists and communities nationwide. Daily, it lives its mission, to strengthen the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation.

President Trump’s 2018 proposed federal budget seeks to eliminate all funds for the NEA. This action will have profound economic and social implications in Nashville and throughout the nation.

Federal funding for the arts ensures that the arts remain equitable and for all people.

In Nashville and Davidson County, in 2015/2016, the National Endowment for the Arts invested more than 2.1 million dollars in individual artists and organizations from Salama Urban Ministries to the Nashville Symphony.

The National Endowment for the Arts is profoundly populist—supporting arts education and programs in every Congressional District in the U.S. and its territories. In 2016, more than 20 million Americans connected to over 33,000 exhibits, concerts and events directly made possible by NEA support.

Federal funding for the arts drives local innovation.

Mayors and city leaders compete constantly to attract and retain the best and brightest talent. Time after time, research bears out that the creative cities, those that invest in a wide variety of arts and culture offerings, also tend to attract and retain the critical technology, manufacturing and corporate innovators cities need to thrive. The NEA consistently awards funds in Nashville for new compositions, choreography, new arts exhibits and even cutting edge music teacher professional development. In 2016, alone, the NEA generated more than $500 million in local matching support for innovation in culture, design and art nationwide.

Federal funding for the arts demonstrates value for artists and their ability to reflect our world.

Art is part of the human condition. In all civilizations humans are drawn to invent, experiment and express themselves in images, stories, words, dance, and craft. Americans have uniquely contributed in all art forms and regardless of politics have deeply valued the handmade and entrepreneurial spirit implicit in artistic life. Public investment in the arts indicates a value for this in America and signals that we as people respect and honor the role that artists play in our communities as culture bearers and truth tellers.

Metro Arts is deeply committed to equity, innovation and most of all the role of artists in our community. We believe continued investment in federal arts funding reinforces what our songwriters, dancers, potters and makers do every day in our city. We will continue our work locally, driving these values and hope we can do so with the National Endowment for the Arts in years to come.