- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 21, 2002

The American Arts Alliance would like to respond to “GOP panel fights boost in arts funds” (Wednesday).

First, the headline implied a purely partisan fight against funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which is not accurate. The House amendment that the article attributed solely to Louise M. Slaughter, New York Democrat, was actually co-sponsored by Reps. Steve Horn, California Republican; Nancy L. Johnson, Connecticut Republican; Norm Dicks, Washington Democrat; and Constance A. Morella, Maryland Republican. Note that of the five co-sponsors, three of them are Republicans.

Furthermore, last year's $10 million increase for the NEA's Challenge America initiative was secured with the help of 33 Republicans, a number that grew to a total of 42 this week for another $10 million increase for fiscal 2003. Second, the article insinuated that the “Broadway Bares XII” event was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA awarded a $10,000 grant to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS for one specific project only: performances and master classes that are part of the New York Dance Festival to be held in September. The performances and master classes will be conducted by some of the most prestigious companies in modern dance, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the Trisha Brown Dance Company. No NEA funding contributed to the “Broadway Bares XII” project.

Political opposition to the NEA has softened considerably during the past few years as the agency has been restricted from funding individual artists and providing general operating support for arts organizations. Congress has approved pumping more dollars into underserved and rural communities through the NEA's Challenge America initiative, and 40 percent of the NEA's budget is divided among the 50 state arts agencies and then distributed as grants at the state level. The remaining 60 percent of the budget is regranted at the federal level with no more than 15 percent of NEA funds going to one state.

We are proud of the fact that the nonprofit arts generate $134 billion in economic activity every year and represent a substantial portion of the national economy. That amount comprises $53.2 billion of direct spending by arts organizations and $80.8 billion in spending by audiences, including hotels, meals and souvenirs. Total yearly tax revenues generated by the nonprofit arts are $24.4 billion ($10.5 billion in federal income tax, $7.3 billion in state income tax and $6.6 billion in local income tax).

The modest investment in the NEA is well worth it.


Executive director

American Arts Alliance


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