Stimulus Bill Compromise Will Help Save Thousands of Arts Workers Jobs
It was not politics as usual in Washington, as the Congressional conferees’ final version of the bill seized the opportunity to provide much-needed stimulus support for the nation’s creative workforce. The National Endowment for the Arts will distribute $50 million of the stimulus funds to arts projects in all 50 states which specifically preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector that have been most hurt by the economic downturn. Additionally, the final version of the stimulus bill further recognized the role the arts play in the overall U.S. economy by removing the Senate ban on state and local governments from using any of the recovery funds to benefit museums, theaters, and art centers.
The nation’s 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences generate $166.2 billion annually in U.S. economic activity. They support 5.7 million jobs and provide nearly $30 billion in government revenue. This economic stimulus will minimize the concern that ten percent of arts groups could close this year and helps save thousands of arts workers from losing their jobs.
We applaud the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Appropriations Chair David Obey, House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior Chair Rep. Norm Dicks, and Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Louise Slaughter. Their clear understanding of the economic impact of the arts has helped to educate the entire Congress on this important issue.
President Obama has said he wants ‘to use the bully pulpit...to promote the importance of arts and arts education in America’ because ‘the arts help to promote the economic development of countless communities.’ As the legislative agenda continues beyond the stimulus bill, leaders in Washington—both Democrat and Republican—should continue to recognize and firmly support the essential contribution of the arts to the growth of our economy. The arts provide cultural and economic benefits and real jobs for real people. They are fundamental in putting Americans back to work.