July 8, 2011

We need two minutes of your time to help save arts funding

Oklahoma City's Lyric Theatre presents
Hairspray July 8 and 9 at Civic Center Music Hall. 
Lyric Theatre receives major funding from
the National Endowment for the Arts. 
URGENT: Oklahomans who believe in public funding for the arts need to call U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma). TODAY. Rep. Cole, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee voted for cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts in 2007 and 2011. His phone number is (202) 225-6165. His FAX number is (202) 225-3512. Legislators MUST HEAR FROM CONSTITUENTS REGARDING WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO THEM. We get the government elect AND advocate for. Oklahoman receives more than $300,000 in annual funding from the NEA. This money goes directly to community arts organizations in the form of grants.

From Americans for the Arts

Once again, the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is facing cuts. This morning, a U.S. House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee began the funding cycle for Fiscal Year 2012 by approving legislation to fund the NEA at $135.2 million, which is a reduction of $20 million from the current year. If enacted, it would be the deepest cut to the NEA in 16 years. Please take two minutes to send a customizable message to your member of Congress calling on them to reject these funding cuts.

This budget proposal is disappointing, represents a disproportionate cut, and appears counter-productive to the stated objectives of growing American jobs.

This proposed cut to the NEA is 13 percent below the current funding level, while overall funding in the bill, which includes agencies like the EPA, Interior Department and the U.S. Forest Service, is reduced by only 7 percent. As Americans for the Arts stated during the contentious FY 2011 budget consideration earlier this year, the arts community recognizes the shared sacrifice being asked of all federal agencies to help reduce our national debt and it is willing to do its part.

The arts sector has proven to be resilient as a growth industry and a strong contributor to the economy. NEA dollars are a critical lifeline in helping state and local budgets survive as philanthropic dollars are dwindling. This drastic reduction does not take into account the incredible return on investment those funds generate to federal, state and local treasuries.

It is expected that the House Appropriations Committee will consider this legislation next week, and the full House of Representatives may consider it before the August recess. A message from you now registering your concerns with your member of Congress would be well-timed to arrive prior to these next steps in the appropriations process.

News Release about Oklahoma and NEA funding from the Oklahoma Arts Council's web site (May 20, 2011)

Recently announced grants to Oklahoma arts organizations by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will enhance the state's arts and cultural offerings. Grants totaling $863,000 have been awarded by the NEA to four arts and cultural organizations.

The Oklahoma Arts Council will receive a state arts agency Partnership grant of $773,000, and Lyric Theatre, the Oklahoma Historical Society, and the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition will receive Access to Artistic Excellence grants totaling $90,000. The grants are awarded for arts and cultural programming and development.

While the Partnership grant to the Council will be 8.5 percent less than 2010 due to federal budget cuts, the three Access to Artistic Excellence grants will bring the state $80,000 more than was awarded to Oklahoma organizations last year in the grant category.

In 2010 only one Oklahoma organization besides the Oklahoma Arts Council received an NEA grant - the Oklahoma City Museum of Art received $10,000 for its exhibit, Sketch to Screen. The 2011 increase in grants comes after the Oklahoma Arts Council asked the NEA to host a session about their grants during the 2010 Oklahoma Arts Conference.

Pam Mowry, development director for Oklahoma City's Lyric Theatre said the NEA's presentation was very helpful. Mowry explained that Lyric applies for the grant every year, but the conference presentation made her aware of important changes to the grant program. Lyric's $45,000 NEA grant will support their production of Oliver!, and corresponding educational and outreach programs.

Oklahoma Arts Council executive director, Suzanne Tate said, "We are excited that last year's Oklahoma Arts Conference helped organizations bring an increase in arts and cultural funding to the state. Providing development programs like the conference to strengthen the arts and cultural industry in Oklahoma is a primary focus of our small agency."