Send an Artifax to stand up for the NEA.
In our series on the federal budget, so far we’ve given you an overview of 45’s drastic proposed cuts and looked into the devastating impact of thrashing the EPA’s budget. Today, we’re focusing on the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), one of 19 independent agencies that 45’s dream budget would eliminate entirely. Our #DailyRevolution is to learn about the importance of the NEA, and to use Artifax to show your support in a creative way.
The NEA is an independent federal agency that provides funding and support for state and local arts organizations, creating opportunities for all Americans to participate in and experience the arts. If you had the privilege of breaking up history and science class with crafts as a kid, you may have the NEA to thank for that. If you realized you loved playing an instrument in a middle school music class, it's probably because the NEA had your back. President Lyndon B. Johnson founded the NEA in 1965 because he believed in serving “not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce, but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.”
The NEA provides support to arts organizations of all sizes, with grants in all congressional districts in all 50 states. When many schools are cutting arts education, the NEA gives children arts opportunities and plays a crucial role in preserving heritage music and craft traditions, particularly in rural parts of the U.S. They also partner with the NEA Military Healing Arts Network to support art therapy for wounded veterans, active military members, and their families. For many small- and mid-sized arts programs, the NEA is the primary source of funding.
The elimination of the NEA would be a huge blow to rural and underserved communities, where grassroots arts organizations are already often overlooked by private donors. A look at the map of NEA-funded projects shows how widespread the impact of the agency is. Last week, 11 House Republicans and 25 Democrats signed a letter expressing their desire to save the NEA, but we need more of our lawmakers to understand how important the NEA is to the cultural and economic wellbeing of our country. As even Republican Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ) stated, “All of my peers have arts venues in their districts. This affects all states and all congressional districts.”
As a federal agency, the NEA isn’t allowed to advocate for itself, so it’s up to us to take a stand for this vital institution. It’s time to get your creative juices flowing, because we’re sending our support through a fax! Use All Five, a Los Angeles-based design studio, recently introduced a new tool called Artifax that allows you to pick one of 20 rad artist-designed templates, plug in your message, and have it faxed right from the website to your senators or representative. The templates vary from abstract designs to more informative graphics — our personal favorite was designed by Natasha Jen and compares the NEA’s yearly budget to Melania Trump’s NYC security expenses.
It’s always helpful to drop some numbers when talking about budgets, so pick one or more of the facts below and get to faxin’:
The NEA is just 0.004% of the federal budget ($148 million a year). In comparison, 45 will be spending 146x that amount on his highly controversial border wall.
More than 80% of that appropriation is distributed as grants and awards to individuals and organizations.
40% of NEA-supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhoods.
36% of NEA grants help underserved populations, such as programs for veterans or people with disabilities.
The arts and culture sector of the economy accounts for $742 billion, or 4.2% of the Gross Domestic Product — more than construction ($672 billion) or transportation and warehousing ($510 billion).
Approximately 5 million Americans are employed in the arts and culture industry.
Designers Are Faxing Protest Art To Lawmakers (And So Can You) – Fast Co. Design
Where Do Your NEA Dollars Really Go? What We Learned on an Indiana Road Trip. – The Washington Post