“Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”
It’s the (early) 70’s and that was the warm up drill in Mrs. Lester’s typing class where I learned to type over 100 words per minute. Today, of course, it would be “all good men and women.”
That phrase keeps echoing in my brain as 2017 shepherds in political turmoil accompanied by tense but much-needed discourse. The pervasive undercurrent, in many instances, is a rediscovered energy to “come to the aid of our country.” The day before the inauguration, arts advocates heard an early call. An article in The Hill said that transition team advisors to the President are calling for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
To this day, there has been no official White House confirmation of this plan. The Hill article is about two transition team members who put together suggestions for the FY2018 Trump budget proposal. Both of these individuals worked for the Heritage Foundation, which has been calling for the NEA to be shut down since 1997. It’s not clear if their suggestions will be incorporated into a Trump budget proposal to Congress.
- Update: Popular Domestic Programs Face Ax Under First Trump Budget (nytimes)
That being said, The Hill article was enough to mobilize grassroots arts advocates around the nation. Can advocates prevent this from happening? If so, what can you do and what should you do to preserve federal funding for arts and culture until the budget is released in early March?
Here are three quick things you can do now.
- Make sure you sign the Arts Action Fund petition and invite friends to do the same. This action helps arts advocates organize, and Americans for the Arts CEO Bob Lynch plans to present this Arts Action Fund petition to the President (you may have seen other petitions, but THIS is the one to sign).
- If you do not currently receive action alerts from ArtPride NJ, complete the quick sign up at ArtPride NJ’s Arts Action Center.
- Join the New Jersey delegation to Washington, D.C. for National Arts Advocacy Day on March 20-21. Register now and inform ArtPride NJ that you plan to attend. March 20 is filled with advocacy training before visits to all New Jersey congressional offices on March 21.
New Jersey is fortunate to have members of U.S. Congress who support federal funding for the arts, humanities, and public broadcasting.
However, it is our job as citizens and advocates to remind them how federal funding affects our state. The ArtPride online NEA toolkit has information on how each year nearly $2 million from the NEA makes a big difference to the quality of life in New Jersey.
Lastly, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are sister agencies to the NEA. The NJ Council for the Humanities is fully funded by federal dollars and depends on that support for its very existence as they provide programs and grants that deepen our understanding of ourselves and our world.
WBGO-FM and NJTV receive funds from CPB to support diverse programs and services that inform, educate, enlighten and enrich the public — an invaluable service that deserves the support of all good men and women.
Stay informed, learn more about how government operates and set time aside for strategic civic action.
For more information on how to be an active and well-informed arts advocate, do not hesitate to reach out to ArtPride NJ for resources, guidance, real facts and tools to help you, as a citizen, “come to the aid of our country.”
Ann Marie Miller is the Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at ArtPride New Jersey and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to visit ArtPride’s website.
Photo at top: Creative Commons / Wendy Harmon