Thursday, January 29, 2009

Arts Leadership League of Georgia Requests Action

Dear Arts Supporter:

We need you to take action now! Your voice has never been more critically needed to preserve and protect the arts and arts education in Georgia. Congress is taking action on the Economic Recovery Package now!



Yesterday afternoon The U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of the $819 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan (AARP) 244 to 188 including the $50 million for the National Endowment for the Art passed out of the Appropriations Committee last week. Appropriations Chairman David Obey opened the bill’s debate strongly in support of arts funding and Members such as Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) spoke up on behalf of the economic benefits of the arts in rebuttal.

The Senate will be starting their debate on the bill on Friday and continuing through next week. While the Senate Appropriations Committee did not include an arts jobs funding provision in their version of the bill, advocates still have several opportunities over the next few days to change the final outcome. Amendments could be made to the Senate bill, or the House arts funding provision itself could prevail in the final House/Senate conference bill.


Please take two minutes to take action by asking your Member of Congress and Senators to support the arts in this legislation. Georgia’s arts community needs your help with the three action steps below. We have made this process quick and amazingly easy.

Congress must hear that this issue is important to their constituents back home.

1. Please pass this email along to others you think would be interested; organizations, groups, friends, colleagues, neighbors, family members, etc. We must have a large grass roots movement for Georgia’s cultural industry. Many of Georgia’s cultural organizations are in dire financial shape.

2. Go to the ALL-GA website:
Under hot issues are several documents on the arts and the economic stimulus. These provide background information, and resources to help you further understand the issue, or to use when making the case to your own local elected officials for maintaining local funding for the arts.
On the home page, in the upper right corner is the Advocacy Action Center, click here and it will take you to the arts alert page. (You can enter your zip code on the action alert and find your elected officials and their contact information, if you do not know who they are). When you click the Take Action Button, you will be on the page, from which to send your letter, a template letter is there, along with talking points that you can insert to customize your letter. Or you can write straight from your heart. The process is quick, easy and effective. Or you can be taken directly to the template letter, by just clicking the link below or by cutting and pasting it into your browser.

3. Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) of Georgia has tried to offer an amendment, but it may not be allowed, to take the $50 million that’s in the stimulus package slated for the National Endowment of the Arts, and shift it to transportation investments. “ I just think putting people to work is more important than putting more art on the wall of some New York City gallery frequented by the elite art community.” Kingston said. “Call me a sucker for the working man. Quoting singer Bob Dylan, Kingston said, “You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” “The arts,” he added, “are the favorite of the left.”

Obviously, we need to make sure that Congressman Kingston hears from us.

First, the arts do indeed provide jobs. In fact, the Americans for the Arts report: Arts & Economic Prosperity III: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences, documents the key role played by the nonprofit arts and culture industry in strengthening our nation’s economy. Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year—$63.1 billion in spending by organizations and an additional $103.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences. The $166.2 billion in total economic activity has a significant national impact, generating the following:

5.7 million full-time equivalent jobs
$104.2 billion in household income
$7.9 billion in local government tax revenues
$9.1 billion in state government tax revenues
$12.6 billion in federal income tax revenues

Second, Georgia will directly benefit from the NEA funding. Currently arts organization are facing unprecedented decline in revenue. It is also worth noting, that while much of the banking and Wall Street economic crisis was self-inflicted, this is not the case with arts community.
Third, Kingston’s outdated idea of arts as elitist - needs to be addressed head on, because that dog won’t hunt. The arts community and elitists are polar opposites. Arts organizations and artists, on a daily basis, reach out to the underserved and our schools, hospitals and senior centers providing programming and entertainment. Moreover, the arts are always giving back to their community by donating tickets, giving free concerts, and donating goods and services to silent auctions for community and civic fundraisers.

Please contact Congressman Jack Kingston; he needs to hear from you now. Your message can be simple, the NEA stimulus money is important to you, your community and Georgia. He can be reached at his office at 202.225.5831 or you can fax: 202.226.2269. Because the vote is any day now, phoning and faxing will apply more pressure than email. He only has a web based email, but it won’t hurt to send an email as well, if you can.

This is a very time sensitive action request. Please take action now. Just two minutes of your time can make a real difference. Please pass this forward, even if you cannot take action yourself. Now is the tipping point. Your advocacy action now, will shape the destiny of Georgia’s cultural community. Speak up today.

Many thanks in advance for your support and advocacy.
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