Art for art’s sake! Or, if that doesn’t work here are some other reasons.
Many Americans understand the immense importance of publicly funded artworks and programs. Some Americans think it’s a waste of tax payer dollars. As a visitor to this website, it’s safe to assume you fall into the first category. But, it’s also safe to assume you know many individuals aligned to the second group. The series of talking points below provide an excellent reference for your next large family gathering or on the phone call with your congressional representatives.
The NEA makes up 0.012% of the Federal Budget or roughly $150 million. A number like this hardly makes a dent in the federal deficit.
Soft Power Matters
China pours billions of dollars into movies, music, dance, news, art and panda bear research in order to develop their soft power. The middle kingdom recognizes that the path to world domination requires more than guns and manmade islands. As ISIS has demonstrated to horrible effects, PR matters. The art, films, and music the NEA supports are powerful assets as American seeks to advance its interests in a uncertain world.
Since its inception during the Great Depression the NEA has served as a tool of urban revitalization. This is fancy talk for making places more attractive to live in. That “livability” can reap real economic growth. For example, the stunning The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, funded in part by the NEA, has been a boon for tourism. More than that, it’s great selling point for businesses and millennials move to the area.
Art is a Cash Cow
The NEA isn’t just public works and do-gooder programs, it’s also a economic powerhouse. For example, some of the initial workshops for the tony award-winning musical to end all musicals, Hamilton, were funded by the NEA. If you consider the NEA as means for economic stimulus the ROI is pretty impressive. The NEA provided a grant for $30,000 and Hamilton is widely expected to become the next musical to hit the $1 Billion mark.
Tackle Social Issues
The NEA provides funds for after school art programs for at risk youth, rehabilitation programs for inmates and art therapy programs for veterans. Broadly, you can claim that the NEA supports education, criminal justice and national security policy. American may be divided but pretty much everyone is in favor of at least one of those things.