DPTV's Rich Homberg Op-ed: Federal arts funding crucial for communities, schools
What do the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, the University Musical Society and the Mosaic Youth Theater all have in common?
They all receive critical support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
Funding from the NEA contributes to arts and cultural organizations that create collaborative communities, connecting cities to suburbs and spurring economic investment along the way. Educational partnerships from Detroit to Ann Arbor, the reinstallation of the Asian wing at the Detroit Institute of Arts — free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties — as well as the upcoming DLECTRICITY festival throughout Midtown — are just a few examples of work that is supported thanks to the NEA.
President Donald Trump’s FY2018 “Skinny Budget” details a budget that eliminates important arts education and after-school grant programs, despite the fact that NEA funding represents a mere 0.004% of the total federal budget.
Communities across America have a stake in the arts, including our own in metro Detroit. According to Americans for the Arts, 4.8 million Americans work in arts and culture industries. Additionally, the arts generate $22.3 billion in federal, state and local government revenue. In southeast Michigan alone, over $125 million in paid salaries contribute to nearly 12,500 jobs annually.
As the alliance for nonprofit arts and culture organizations throughout southeast Michigan, CultureSource want to emphasize to Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, and all of our elected officials, that grants funded from the NEA work to enhance access to the arts for all, especially in underserved rural and inner-city areas.
Winning an NEA grant sends a clear message that the grantee is operating an impactful local program of top quality, nationally. In the entire state of Michigan in 2016, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) received $770,000 from the NEA — of that, 95 arts and culture nonprofits in southeast Michigan received nearly $300,000 in operating support through the MCACA. Organizations in our region, from Wixom to Rochester, received an additional $720,000 directly from the NEA to support their operations, ranging from Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Focus: Hope and Sphinx.
The NEA recommends grants in every congressional district in the country. What’s more, 40% of NEA supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhoods, like the University of Michigan's investment in a creative incubator in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood with the Maker Space. Thirty-six percent of NEA grants go to organizations that reach underserved populations, including people with disabilities and veterans. The NEA has been able to do all these things and more with just 0.004% of the total federal budget.
According to the latest news from U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the arts and culture sector contribute 4.2% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. That’s $729 billion per year. As we work to build a stronger and more inclusive metro Detroit, we must not forget the impact created by these arts and cultural institutions in our own cities. Please don’t believe that eliminating these cultural agencies will reduce the deficit or the size of government. We simply cannot afford to cut back on our federal investment in the arts and culture in this country.
Now, more than ever, we cannot afford to lose the profound impact of the NEA in our state, community and schools.
Rich Homberg is CEO of Detroit Public Television chairman of CultureSource, an alliance for nonprofit arts and culture organizations in southeast Michigan.