July 28, 2011

Why Oklahoma Arts Organizations Should Thank U.S. Rep. Tom Cole

Last week, Oklahomans for the Arts attended a webinar organized by the National Association of State Arts Agencies. It was on how to address burnout among arts advocates. It's been such a tough year for public funding for the arts and the cause's most faithful advocates. In fact, just today, Huffington Post featured an opinion piece by Michael Kaiser, President of the Kennedy Center, in which he said this is the most difficult time to be an arts manager.

During the NASAA webinar, an arts leader from Arizona talked about how important it is in this current climate to celebrate the small victories. Today, the arts had one such celebration. Amidst all the fiscal crisis talk, now referred to by some as the coming of Armadebtton, the National Endowment for the Arts dodged an additoinal $10 million cut proposed in the "Walberg Amendment." The NEA already sustained a $20 million cut in its appropriation. This would have been on top of that.

In passionate debate, several members of Congress showed their support of the arts. U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), put the $10 million cut in perspective. He correlated it to the $10 million the U.S. spent during its first few minutes in Libya. He said we spend $10 million an hour in Afghanistan.

U.S Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) talked about how the arts are an easy target. You can  hear this debate for yourself. Visit the House website to watch videos of all of the Floor Speeches. Click on July 27, 2011. The Walberg Amendment is introduced at 10:29:00 and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) speaks at 10:43:00.

A transcript of these Floor Speeches is available under the Public Funding tab.

Members of Congress arguing against the Walberg amendment, which failed 240-181 with 55 Republicans and 185 Democrats voting against the cut were:

U.S. Representative James Moran (D-VA)
U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID)
U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)
U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY)
U.S. Rep. Rush Hold (D-NJ)
U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA)
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN)

These lawmakers are responsible for helping loosen the stranglehold on public funding for the arts in America. Oklahomans for the Arts will be sending emails to all of them thanking them for their support in addition to our own U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-4), one of the Republians voting against the amendment! Thank you, Rep. Cole!!

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On Monday, the House defeated, by a vote of 284-126, an Amendment introduced by Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-KS-1), which would have eliminated all funding for the NEA. U.S. Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) and U.S. Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK-1) SUPPORTED the amendment. 

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-4) and U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK-3) did NOT support the amendment. U.S. Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK-2) did not vote.