Arts & Humanities

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Tom Udall Respond to Change.org Petition Starter

AJ Walton
Mar 1, 2017

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When news broke recently that the Trump administration may cut funding for both the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities — which provide public funding for initiatives on the local, state, and national level — citizens like Jonathan Eastbrooks took to Change.org to ask members of Congress to protect the endowments.

The NEA and NEH account for less than .002% of federal spending — about 46 cents each, for every American, every year — and both are the lifeblood and foundation for dance and music classes, research funding for libraries and museums, and so much more, Jonathan said.

This week, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Tom Udall of New Mexico listened to Jonathan’s concerns. See their responses below, and be sure to contact your representatives if you agree with Jonathan that the NEA and NEH should continue receiving public funding.

Senator Gillibrand’s Response:

“Thank you, Jonathan, for starting this petition. As a mom of two young sons, I share your belief that art and culture are essential to a well-rounded education that gives all our children the opportunity to succeed.

Every Congressional district in America benefits from this crucial funding. Every town or city, whether large or small, has schoolchildren who need art and music education, including kids who have the potential to grow up and become the next generation of American cultural icons. But not every school has the funding needed to cover these important experiences. And every community has families who want to take their children to see what art masterpieces look like, but not every family can afford to travel far to see that art.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities help create more equal access, for all students, to the benefits of arts and culture programs. They give veterans a new lens to understand their experiences and reintegrate into their communities. They give local museums in small towns more resources to teach students on field trips. They fund educational programming on PBS, which is loved by children and helps them keep learning outside of school. Without the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, it would be much more difficult for anyone outside of a big city to experience the arts and humanities.

We should never eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and I will do everything in my power as a Senator to stop any effort to do so. But I can’t do it alone. I encourage all of you to keep speaking out about this important issue. If art, music, drama, and the humanities matter to you, then call your representative and tell them why. Make it clear to them how cutting the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities would hurt your community, your school, or your family. Tell everyone you know to call them too. If enough of us raise our voices in defense of the arts and humanities, we can prevent these devastating cuts.”

Senator Udall’s response:

“Thank you to Jonathan for taking the time to fight for funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities by starting this petition — and thanks to everybody who signed it.

The arts and humanities are an important part of the culture, tradition and tourism economy of New Mexico and communities throughout the country, and the NEA and NEH are the lifeblood of programs that keep these creative communities alive. Through their support for performances, lectures, films, literature, music, libraries, museums, and colleges, among others, the NEA and NEH have expanded our exposure to art and culture, inspired creativity and empowered free expression.

Senator Gillibrand and I wrote a letter to President Trump to highlight the critical contributions that these programs make to our society, education system and economy. As a chair of the Senate Cultural Caucus, and Ranking Member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the NEA and NEH, I will do everything I can to ensure support for these crucial programs continues.”

A.J. Walton is the Sr. Communications Manager at Change.org