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Pennsylvania Arts Advocates Visit Washington, Advocate on National Arts Issues

On April 12th and 13 several dozen arts advocates from around the state joined over 500 national advocates at the 2010 National Arts Advocacy Day at the nation's capitol.

On April 12th and 13 several dozen arts advocates from around the state joined over 500 national advocates at the 2010 National Arts Advocacy Day at the nation’s capitol.

On the first day advocates attended the American’s for the Arts National Arts Action Summit, with action briefings throughout the day on key arts advocacy issues including efforts to increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and arts education initiatives; to preserve incentives for charitable giving; to improve the visa process for foreign artists; and to expand access to creative arts in healthcare programs.

A key agenda item was an orchestrated appeal to increase NEA funding to $180 million for FY11. Currently, the President has recommended a FY11 NEA appropriations request of $161 million. However, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee can recommend increases in appropriations to the full House Appropriations Committee as part of the budget process, and has done so in the past.

On Tuesday, advocates from around the country, including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, actor Kyle Maclachlan, actor Jeff Daniels, Executive Director Terri Aldrich of the Minot ND Area Council on the Arts, CEO Charles Segars of Ovation, and Brigadier General Nolen Bivens (ret.) testified to Subcommittee Chair James Moran (D-Virginia) and ranking member Michael Simpson (R-Idaho), recommending an increase in funding for the NEA.

“The NEA is critical to the continued development of American cities as centers of arts and culture and to fostering artistic excellence for generations to come.” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Other speakers testified to the broad impact NEA funding has in their communities and in their own personal lives.

Many of these nonprofit theatres that shaped my early career were recipients of NEA grants, either directly or indirectly, through the state and local arts councils,”said actor Kyle Maclachlan. “I am living proof of the tangible difference supporting these types of programs can make.”

Brigadier General Nolen Bivens even emphasized the unique ability of the arts to impact national security and help heal wounded veterans. “Support of the arts and artists can help to bridge many common values that lead to peaceful resolution of disagreements as well as the sustainment of cordial international relations. [The arts] also assist our wounded warriors as they transition back into civilian life."

Following testimony, PA advocates met with a host of congressional and senatorial offices including those of Representives Jim Gerlach (R); Robert Brady (D); Joseph Pitts (R); Allyson Schwartz (D); Patrick Murphy (D); Joe Sestak (D); and Senators Robert Casey (D) and Arlen Specter (D).