So what exactly is the NEA? For many, the acronym means the National Education Association, which is completely important but not what we’re talking about right now.
The National Endowment for the Arts “is an independent federal agency that funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation.” Established in 1965, the NEA’s multiple partnerships with arts agencies, local leaders, federal agencies and philanthropic sectors has allowed for arts learning, the celebration of America’s diverse cultural heritage, and equal access to the arts in every community across America!!
Starting out as an act of hope and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the NEA was created as a way to serve “not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.” However, after years of political attack, the ideas of community and inclusion are gone. With the budget consistently being cut down, different donors and foundations have attempted to help buy supplying the funds to fill what was cut. But as this has continued to happen, the NEA has ended up not serving the original core audience intended.
To a lot of people, they’re convinced the NEA has nothing to offer and has helped no one. When in reality, it’s actually been quite successful. It has leveled the playing field for arts organizations to be funded. Specifically it has had a huge impact in African American and rural communities which were often time considered “too grassroots” to be funded by private philanthropy. Philadelphia’s Philadanco and Dallas Black Dance Theater have experienced a “reputation boost” due to the NEA’s financial support and cultural capitol and have gained attention from foundations that had ignored them in the past. Without that funding, those smaller agencies wouldn’t have had the chance to be considered for private funding.
What a lot of people don’t conceptualize, is that the arts are actually EVERYWHERE. They’re not just in concert halls that are expensive, opera halls for the “elite” or in theaters with nose bleed seats. Janet Brown states “We need to get back to that place where we say ‘the arts’ to someone, their mind doesn’t go immediately go to a big-box building downtown where it costs you $160 to go,”. There are so many smaller more affordable organizations that are worth so much. That will be just as fulfilling and inspiring. The arts are not just a random course you take in school for an easy A, they create a community of people who express their voice through multiple medias.
Donations to the NEA help sustain the long tradition of support for the arts. Contributions can be for many reasons. Maybe you want to give because the arts have changed your life in some way or another. Or maybe it is to show your support for someone you love. Could be through work, an employer, or just for that special tax deduction. Whatever way you give, you’re giving to so many.
If you’d like to ever consider donating, here is some contact info:
Tony Tighe: firstname.lastname@example.org #: 202-682-5616
For mailing in a check, mail to:
National Endowment for the Arts
Attn: Tony Tighe
4000 7th Street SW
Washington, DC 20506
See ya soon,