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AFS Review: News

Act Now In Support of Our Federal Government Arts and Cultural Agencies

Thursday, May 4, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tim Lloyd
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We appreciate your advocacy with your US Representatives and Senators this past March in support of the current-year budgets of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and other federal government arts and cultural agencies and programs. We'd appreciate receiving emails from those of who you made such contact, noting the legislators you contacted and any response you received from them.

The good news is that in the budget that will continue funding the federal government through September 30, 2017, the main federal arts and cultural agencies--rather than experiencing budget reductions or elimination--received either no budget decreases or modest budget increases. NEA and NEH each received an additional $2 million, which brought the annual budgets for each agency to $150 million. IMLS received an additional $1 million, bringing its budget for the year to $231 million. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting's budget remained at $445 million, and the Smithsonian Institution's increased from $840 million to $863 million. The Library of Congress budget increased from $600 million to $632 million.

In March we noted that even more intensive advocacy would be required when the federal government's budget for fiscal year 2018 (October 1, 2017-September 30, 2018) was negotiated in Congress. The time for that more intensive advocacy is now.

We are writing today to encourage each of you, and the institutions for which you work, to communicate directly with your US Senators and Representatives. This is particularly important if any of them serves on the House or Senate Appropriations Committees, or their subcommittees devoted to the Interior, Environment, or Related Agencies: the bodies within the full House and Senate where the budgets for these agencies have their start. You can find those legislators' names here.

We are asking you to do one thing for sure, and perhaps a second:

1. Between now and the end of May, call or write your own US Representative and Senators to register your strong support for these agencies. (Don't know who your US Representative is? Find out at Don't know who your two US Senators are? Find out at

The best advocacy is specific and local, and should tell a compelling story about the impact of the contributions these agencies are making--through grants, programs, or services--to you, your family, your community, and your state. You can find state-by-state lists of the most current round of NEA grants here, and of the most current round of NEH grants here. For a set of talking points about the NEA Folk and Traditional Arts program in particular, please see here. The Folklore Advocacy Toolkit is an extremely useful resource.

2. The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will be holding hearings in late May or June on the parts of the federal budget they are discussing. You can submit written testimony on behalf of the federal government arts and cultural agencies to these subcommittees. Comments to the House subcommittee must be submitted by May 24; the guidelines for submission are here. Comments to the Senate subcommittee must be submitted by May 26; the guidelines for submission are here.

Please also send AFS a brief email (at to let us know what you did (including the text of any written testimony you submit) and what response, if any, you received.

Thank you for your support of our field and of these critically important government agencies and programs.

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