Thank you to the many people who have been blog contributors to, and readers of ArtsBlog over the years. ArtsBlog has long been a space where we uplifted stories from the field that demonstrated how the arts strengthen our communities socially, educationally, and economically; where trends and issues and controversies were called out; and advocacy tools were provided to help you make the case for more arts funding and favorable arts policies.

As part of Americans for the Arts’ recent Strategic Realignment Process, we were asked to evaluate our storytelling communications platforms and evolve the way we share content. As a result, we launched the Designing Our Destiny portal to explore new ways of telling stories and sharing information, one that is consistent with our longtime practice of, “No numbers without a story, and no stories without a number.”

As we put our energy into developing this platform and reevaluate our communications strategies, we have put ArtsBlog on hold. That is, you can read past blog posts, but we are not posting new ones. You can look to the Designing Our Destiny portal and our news items feed on the Americans for the Arts website for stories you would have seen in ArtsBlog in the past.

ArtsBlog will remain online through this year as we determine the best way to archive this valuable resource and the knowledge you’ve shared here.

As ever, we are grateful for your participation in ArtsBlog and thank you for your work in advancing the arts. It is important, and you are important for doing it.

Stimulus Bill Compromise Will Help Save Thousands of Arts Workers Jobs

Posted by Mr. Robert Lynch, Feb 13, 2009 1 comment

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 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.

1 responses for Stimulus Bill Compromise Will Help Save Thousands of Arts Workers Jobs


February 13, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Not all the NEA visual arts programs actually work. More than any of NEA's current visual arts grants, the Visual Artist Fellowship Program program recognized achievement and encouraged innovation until its discontinuation in 1995. Congress and the NEA should immediately move to restore this valuable program.

I personally benefitted from studying with an NEA Fellow as a college student in New York in 1987-8. My ceramics teacher then was James Makins, who won Fellowships in 1976 and 1980. His innovative wheel-thrown porcelinware was somewhere between the palette of Italian still life painter Giorgio Morandi and the whimsical shapes of Dr. Seuss. His students developed technical proficiency, a spirit of improvisation and a critical eye. The Visual Artist Fellowship was a valuable and effective program, reaching well beyond the individual recipient.

The current effect of NEA support for visual artists is diluted at the state level. State programs do not have near the same career impact. State individual grants (for Florida) are $5,000 while the NEA still awards Literature Fellowships of $25,000. Given that visual arts disciplines--ceramics, sculpture, painting, photography--are more expensive, a grant amount of $30,000 would carry equal weight. The national Visual Arts Fellowship needs to be restored.

Visual artists have been marginalized by Congress and the NEA since 1995. We need to make their voices heard on how the NEA handles these funds.

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