We got a lot of welcome change in the election last November. BUT if our representatives don’t hear from us, they will be up against a ton of pressure from countervailing forces. Right now there’s an issue in which your voice can really make a difference. A short phone call is all it takes.
The economic stimulus bill now before the U.S. Senate proposes an addition to the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts — $50 million to be exact. My belief is that support for the arts not only helps artists, but also creates jobs and helps the economy as a whole. More important, it makes for an enlightened society that can make enlightened decisions. Music and arts in public schools deserve all the support they can get.
A minority in the Senate believes we should have no spending of any kind, especially for the arts. They can force a compromise. Let your representatives know that this is one issue that cannot be compromised. Believe it or not, these people are influenced by the calls they get from constituents. The squeaky wheel does get the oil. This is our chance to make some noise and actually have an effect.
In New York State, I feel pretty well represented. Chuck Schumer has generally been a defender of arts funding. The newly appointed Kristen Gillibrand is more of an unknown to me, making it even more important that she hear from New York’s arts community. Lucky for me, my Representative in Congress is John Hall, formerly a songwriter and member of Orleans. Still, even this bill’s defenders need the support from us constituents. This is the moment to help them by reaching out.
Call your reps (including President Obama) today. Here’s how to find their telephone numbers:
This is a list of all U.S. Senators with their office numbers. You can also search directly on your state. The link is to www.senate.gov. These are the folks voting in the next 24 hours or so.
Here’s where you can find your Representative in congress. You just have to enter your zip code.
This is a good link to find any of your elected officials. They’re all at usa.gov.
[update: The vote is being put off, leaving you a few more days to call in. All the reps I spoke with mentioned that they were receiving calls in support of the NEA receiving the funding in the Obama version of this bill.]
[update 2: Americans for the Arts is instigating a letter to the editor campaign on this issue. Here are all the tools you need to get the message out in your community.]