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Call your MoCs and Tell Them to Protect the National Endowment for the Arts

This OTYCD entry originally posted in March 2017.

Call your members of Congress and tell them to defend the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) from any attempts to defund or abolish it.

When Republicans gain control of the government, a few rusty old issues always come up. Abolishing the NEA is one of them.

Republicans inevitably claim that they want to kill the NEA to save money, but it only receives $148 million, which represents 0.004 percent of the federal budget.

We citizens get a lot for that meager sum. The arts stimulate the economy and have proven critical to reviving ailing cities and towns.

The NEA also does something that few outside the museum world appreciate: It backs indemnity agreements that allow U.S. museums to arrange for loans of art for exhibitions that they otherwise could not afford to insure. Remember the last blockbuster museum show you loved that had oodles of priceless canvases from Europe, or sculptures from Asia? If the NEA disappears, so do exhibitions like those.

The NEA does a lot of good with a small budget. It also represents a fundamental commitment to the arts and humanities that any nation must honor if it thinks of itself as civilized. French-born composer Edgard Varèse put his finger on it when he said, “Art is the highest expression and not a luxury–Where are the Egyptian bankers today? And Egyptian art survives.”

We know the Egyptians through their art. We know the Neanderthals through the images that they inscribed on the walls of caves. Art is how we speak to generations yet unborn. Art is what those generations will think of when they think of America. That’s why we need the NEA, and that is why we will always need the NEA. Don’t let Trump and Paul Ryan and his ilk kill it.

Sample script: “I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I am asking (Senator/Representative Lastname) to fight against any attempt by the Trump administration to cripple or kill the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA is one of the best bargains in the entire federal government. It helps museums arrange blockbuster shows by backing indemnity agreements that allow for loans of priceless art. If we lost the NEA, we would all feel it, and we would feel it deeply.”