Blog Posts for arts policy

An Open Letter to the United States Congress from Tim Robbins

Posted by Tim Mikulski, Apr 07, 2011 33 comments

Tim Robbins

In 1976, when I was 17 years old, I received a check for 50 dollars from the National Endowment for the Arts.

I was a member of a touring theater company that performed free shows in low-income neighborhoods throughout New York City. We rehearsed for five weeks and performed for eight so my per hour income was paltry if not pathetic but I remember a great sense of pride when I cashed that check.

I was being paid by my government for entertaining people. I was proud to live in a country where that could happen. It also gave me great confidence in my talent. I continued to pursue this profession.

Within ten years the investment by my government of fifty dollars in 1976 was returning hundreds of thousands of dollars back to them in taxes.

Within the next decade the government received an even sweeter bounty on their fifty-dollar investment. And I was proud to pay these taxes. As I have been proud to invest back into the arts with The Actors' Gang, a 30-year-old organization that provides free educational programs to public school children and at risk teens and offers affordable and accessible theatrical and musical events to the citizens of Los Angeles.   

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