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How NEA Funding Affects Local Communities

This year marks the 25th anniversary of National Arts Advocacy Day (AAD), the largest and most wide-ranging, one-day advocacy effort in support of the arts.

Advocates come from across the country come to Washington, DC, to meet with their members of Congress and staff members as part of the event. While the topics range from charitable giving incentives to cultural exchange, the keystone issue for many advocates remains support for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Here is what last year’s National Arts Advocacy Day Co-Chair Kerry Washington had to say about the importance of NEA funding (and other issues):

If that wasn’t enough, check out some of the stats that demonstrate the scope of the NEA’s impact:

  • Nearly 2,000 NEA awards have been made in communities in all 50 states.
  • 100 percent of Congressional districts will receive at least one grant, and 3,000 or more communities will participate in NEA-sponsored projects. These communities will benefit from these projects in ways such as touring and outreach.
  • Nearly 90 million individuals benefit from NEA programs, including 9 million children and young adults.
  • The NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities.

Still not convinced that the NEA needs your support?

Here are some examples of past grants, in each discipline, of the NEA’s scope and reach:

Alabama Dance Council, located in
Birmingham, AL, was awarded $10,000 to support the presentation of the 2011 Alabama Dance Festival, which featured performances by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, showcases of Alabama dance companies, pre-professional and professional master classes, professional development workshops, summer intensive auditions, and dance education workshops.

Mixed Blood Theatre Company located in
Minneapolis, MN, was awarded $50,000 to support the production of new plays and the commission of world premiere works designed to advance and engage artists and audiences with disabilities.

Western Folklife Center
located in Elko, NV, was awarded $50,000 to support the production of the semi-permanent exhibition Ranchlines: Verses and Visions of the Rural West, which emphasized creativity, ingenuity, and a poetic approach to life and work in the rural ranching West.

Tacoma Opera Association located in Tacoma, WA was awarded $12,500 to support a double-bill performance of Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti.

Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, located in Oklahoma City, OK, was awarded $15,000 to support Concept/OK, an exhibition and artist residency program in the new Visual Arts Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Savannah Music Festival, located in Savannah, GA, was awarded $50,000 to support the annual festival presenting artists of different genres including world music, music and dance traditions of Latin America, traditional songs from coastal Georgia, and chamber music masterworks from Europe.

Alaska Design Forum, located in Anchorage, AK, was awarded $50,000 to support Elemental, a research project in collaboration with Renewable Energy Alaska Project that seeks solutions for providing sustainable, affordable housing in rural Alaska through public roundtable discussions, design charrettes, and an exhibit, toolkit, and master plan for a rural village.

Women Make Movies, located in New York, NY, was awarded $60,000 to support the Women Make Movies Distribution Service, which included more than 500 titles includes documentary, narrative, experimental, animated, and mixed-genre work created by artists worldwide.

University of Hawaii at Manoa (on behalf of Manoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing),
located in Honolulu, HI, was awarded $10,000 to support the publication, distribution, and design of the international literary journal Manoa, which makes contemporary works of Asia and the Pacific available to English-speaking readers through new translations.

NEA grants help make possible 30,000–35,000 concerts, readings, and performances; 4,000–5,000 visual, media, and performing arts exhibitions; and 7,000–8,000 artist residencies in schools and communities.

Arts Advocacy Day is fast approaching and it is important that members of Congress hear your voice in support of the NEA so that the agency can continue to impact YOUR nation, YOUR state, YOUR community, and YOUR art.

Find out more about National Arts Advocacy Day and the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy by visiting

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