Wyoming Arts Council

Arts jobs supported in American Recovery Act

Here’s the text of a letter sent 2/19/09 to all state and regional arts agencies by Johnathan Katz, CEO of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA). It concerns the arts components included in Pres. Obama’s “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” The Wyoming Arts Council is a NASAA member.

On Tuesday, President Obama signed into law The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Here is language from H.R. 1 regarding the grants and administration of the National Endowment for the Arts that is pertinent to state arts agencies and the diverse constituencies they serve:

$50,000,000, to be distributed in direct grants to fund arts projects and activities which preserve jobs in the non-profit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn: Provided, That 40 percent of such funds shall be distributed to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations in a manner similar to the agency’s current practice and 60 percent of such funds shall be for competitively selected arts projects and activities….

NASAA staff worked closely with the membership and our colleagues to provide decision makers with timely information clearly demonstrating how public support for the arts contributes to a healthy work force, preserves and creates jobs, and strengthens the economy overall.

By their action, members of Congress demonstrated that they got the message NASAA focused on: that an arts job supports a household and the economy just as other jobs do. Members of Congress demonstrated they understood that every state — cities, suburbs and rural areas — benefits when performing visual, literary and media artists, stage managers, sound and lighting technicians, marketing staff, costume designers, carpenters, electricians and those who teach the arts-as well as employees of the companies, concert halls, restaurants, ticket sellers and tour operators who depend on them-bring paychecks home to their families.

NASAA members believe that broad and deep participation in the arts is best supported at the federal level by a combination of direct grant making and grant-making through states. The specific allocation of $20 million to state arts agencies and their consortia verifies that Congressional leaders agree. Members of Congress demonstrated they understood that the portion of federal dollars that goes through state arts agencies can be targeted efficiently to those local places where jobs can be saved and created, can reach deeply into local communities and school systems, can assist arts organizations to make it through the recession and artists to market their products and services.

NASAA staff asked you several times in the past few weeks to communicate to your representatives the cultural needs of your state, the vision of your agency for your state’s cultural life, and what they had to do in this economic environment to keep that vision alive. You did it. Congratulations!

In the days and weeks ahead, NASAA will work with our NEA colleagues to keep you informed of the range of opportunities for you and your constituents to participate in the programs funded by the stimulus bill-including updates on the timing and process for the distribution of stimulus funds slated for state and regional arts agencies.

Working together through NASAA, state arts agencies will do their part to assist the recovery of-and reinvestment in-the American economy.

Thank you for your public service and for your active participation in the federal budget process.

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