Arts funding vital for schools, communities

What do the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, the University Musical Society and the Mosaic Youth Theater all have in common?

They all receive critical support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Funding from the NEA contributes to arts and cultural organizations that create collaborative communities, connecting cities to suburbs and spurring economic investment along the way. Educational partnerships from Detroit to Ann Arbor, the reinstallation of the Asian wing at the Detroit Institute of Arts — free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties — as well as the upcoming DLECTRICITY festival throughout Midtown — are just a few examples of work that is supported thanks to the NEA.

President Donald Trump’s FY2018 “Skinny Budget” details a budget that eliminates important arts education and after-school grant programs, despite the fact that NEA funding represents a mere 0.004% of the total federal budget.

Communities across America have a stake in the arts, including our own in metro Detroit.?According to Americans for the Arts, 4.8 million Americans work in arts and culture industries. Additionally, the arts generate $22.3 billion in federal, state and local government revenue.?In southeast Michigan alone, over $125 million in paid salaries contribute to nearly 12,500 jobs annually.

As the alliance for nonprofit arts and culture organizations throughout southeast Michigan, CultureSource want to emphasize to Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, and all of our elected officials, that grants funded from the NEA work to enhance access to the arts for all, especially in underserved rural and inner-city areas.?

Winning an NEA grant sends a clear message that the grantee is operating an impactful local program of top quality, nationally. In the entire state of Michigan in 2016, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) received $770,000 from the NEA — of that, 95 arts and culture nonprofits in southeast Michigan received nearly $300,000 in operating support through the MCACA. Organizations in our region, from Wixom to Rochester, received an additional $720,000 directly from the NEA to support their operations, ranging from Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Focus: Hope and Sphinx.

The NEA recommends grants in every congressional district in the country. What’s more, 40 percent of NEA supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhoods, like the University of Michigan’s investment in a creative incubator in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood with the Maker Space. Thirty-six percent of NEA grants go to organizations that reach underserved populations, including people with disabilities and veterans. The NEA has been able to do all these things and more with just 0.004 percent of the total federal budget.

Free Press (Detroit)

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