More Art, Less War!

Americans for the Arts is a leading nonprofit organization that advances the arts in the United States. With offices in Washington, DC, and New York City, it has a record of more than 45 years of service. On February 5, 2007, Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch, responded to the Bush administration’s fiscal year 2008 Arts and Culture funding recommendations by issuing the following statement:

“For the first time in three years, President Bush initiated a proposed increase in funds for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). If approved, the president’s $4 million funding increase would grow the NEA budget from $124.4 million to $128.4 million, which is a step in the right direction. However, Americans for the Arts calls on Congress to restore full funding to the NEA at its fiscal year 1992 level of $176 million, which spurred significant economic growth, artistic achievement, and accessibility to the nation’s cultural organizations across the nation. The nonprofit arts industry generates $134 billion in economic activity annually for the U.S. economy, supports 4.85 million full-time jobs, and returns $10.5 billion in income tax revenue back to the federal government.

We applaud the president for recommending another significant increase to the Institute of Museum and Library Services and a modest increase to the National Endowment for the Humanities. However, it is disappointing to see the administration propose zeroing out funding for the seventh consecutive year to the Department of Education’s arts education programs. One of the best ways to nurture creativity, a necessity to prepare for a 21st-century workforce, is to have children learn and actively participate in the arts. The administration needs to understand the role of arts education in developing an innovative and creative society. Studies show that students who participate in the arts are not only more likely to participate in a math and science fair, but also outperform their peers on the SATs by 103 points.”

Let me put the issue of federal arts funding in perspective for you.

President Bush’s 2008 fiscal request for the National Endowment for the Arts is $128.4 million. The President’s 2008 fiscal request for defense and the “global war on terror” is $716 billion. The war and occupation in Iraq has so far cost an estimated $365 billion.

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, “Currently, the Defense Department says it is spending about $4.5 billion a month on the conflict in Iraq, or about $100,000 per minute. Current spending in Afghanistan is about $800 million a month, or about $18,000 per minute.

$128 million for an entire year’s worth of national arts funding - yeah, we’re doing exceptionally well here folks.

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