Fmr. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks on Arts Advocacy Day. NEA Chairwoman Jane Chu seated next to Ben Vereen
Arts Advocacy Day was this week, and it was great to see so many from the non-profit community across the country standing-up for the arts.
Organizations converged on the offices of lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to make the case for government support of the arts; the gathering was planned long before the President’s proposed budget (and its gutting of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities, and more) was announced.
If you wonder how the proposed budget affects the arts here in Atlanta, consider that Art on the Beltline has received support from the NEA, and we’ve worked with Art on the Beltline for the last three years to bring THE FENCE to the Eastside Trail.
ACP Public Art—THE FENCE on the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail
Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) is reliant on funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, and from there, distributes grants to arts non-profits (like ACP) across Georgia. For a recent example, GCA supported the publication of the photography/poetry anthology of Georgia photographers & poets last year: Inspired Georgia.
Waduda Muhammad from ACP was on the ground in DC this week. Here’s her report:
"“This year’s Americans for the Arts “30th Arts Advocacy Day” couldn’t have come at a more necessary time. It took place shortly after President Trump proposed his budget which included a proposal to eliminate the entire budget for the National Endowment for the Arts. As a Board Member with Georgia Arts Network (which is Georgia’s State Arts Action Network) I understood that now more than ever our advocacy efforts were needed. This would be my first time attending AAD and it couldn’t be a more exciting time to go.
About 50 of us who sit on State Arts Action Networks throughout the US convened in Washington D.C. on Sunday. The day was filled with intense advocacy training including legislative updates, state of the state reporting, crafting our messaging, scheduling congressional visits with our local congressmen and much more. The climate among fellow advocates ranged from enthusiastic, to emotionally challenging, and at times uneasy uncertainty about our challenge. Monday, we were joined by 600+ individuals from across the US to engage in more conversations, presentations, workshops and breakout sessions. The evening ended with an outstanding lecture by Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation.
Tuesday arrived and it was time. A town hall rally in the Senate House became a turning point for me. I had no idea that we would be in the company of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Alaskan Senator Lisa Merkowski, and Congressman John Lewis, District 5 Representative from Atlanta.
Eleven of us came from Georgia; we represented 8 GA districts and together we met with 14 GA district representatives. My most anticipated meeting of the day was with Seema Ibrahim, assistant to my Congressman, David Scott, of District 13. My message was simple; “the NEA is in jeopardy of being eliminated, I am here from GA and I am a resident in your district. I need your support in advocating for continued funding for the NEA”.
In the end, Congressman David Scott is one of many members of Congress who’ve declared their support for continued funding of the NEA. A sigh of relief?—?but there is more work to be done.”
From left to right: Dandi Gu (SCAD Student); Waduda Muhammad (Georgia Arts Network & State Captain); Congressman Buddy Carter GA District 1, House Republican; Cristina Liquet (SCAD Student); Maggie Little (UGA Student); Patrick Kelsey (SCAD Professor)
Here's ACP's Executive Director, Amy Miller
"Being in Atlanta, we are lucky to be the beneficiaries of robust arts agencies like the FCAC and The Mayor’s OCA. Those agencies, overlaid with GCA, makes for a truly robust arts community. In places around the state that may not have thriving municipal arts councils, the GCA’s grants are even more important to the cultural ecosystem.
I look at it this way: Georgia’s businesses are why we need to live here?—?they enrich our networks and our wallets. Georgia’s beauty is why we like living here?—?it enriches our state of being. Georgia’s arts and culture offerings are why we thrive here?—?they enrich our hearts and minds.
Eliminating the NEA (particularly without a plan?—?or even a conversation!?—?to mitigate the impact) would make a statement about our country’s priorities. The proposed dismantling of the NEA leaves a rancid taste in my mouth.”