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How strong is NEA support?

WASHINGTON -- As the fate of the National Endowment for the Arts National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

Independent agency of the U.S. government that supports the creation, dissemination, and performance of the arts. It was created by the U.S.
 hung in the balance, a troubling question also hovered in the air: have the agency's supporters done enough?

At press time the House had voted 217-216 to eliminate the NEA NEA
1. National Education Association

2. National Endowment for the Arts

NEA (US) n abbr (= National Education Association) → Verband für das Erziehungswesen
, and the Senate was set to vote on the future of the agency. "This has nothing to do with money," said NEA spokesperson Cherie Simon. "It has everything to do with politics. This certainly is, I think, the most serious threat to the Endowment. The leadership of the House has made [the NEA] a test of their control in Congress."

These pronouncements constituted a state of emergency to some arts advocacy groups. The American Arts Alliance -- an umbrella organization
For the fictional company set in the Resident Evil videogame series, see Umbrella Corporation.

An umbrella organization is an association of (often related, industry-specific) institutions, who work together formally to coordinate activities or
 of arts lobbyists -- alerted its members to the emergency in its summer 1997 newsletter, which contained a flyer calling for immediate action and a sample letter for NEA supporters to send to their legislators. But motivating NEA constituents is not so easy, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Bonnie Brooks, executive director of Dance/USA, which has also sent out "action alerts" to its approximately 150 members. "Part of the difficulty for those of us working in Washington is we're working in a fast lane," said Brooks. "Every year we face the same set of problems and have to remotivate the same set of people."

Trouble has been brewing for the NEA ever since the 104th Congress took effect. The Republicans tried to kill the agency before, most notably with a middle-of-the-night agreement among House leadership in 1995 in which an accord was made to fund the agency for another fiscal year if the endowment would be eliminated in fiscal year 1998. The endowment had managed to survive to date due to bipartisan support. But last minute arm-twisting by Speaker Newt Gingrich eroded enough moderate Republican support to doom the agency in the House.

The question remains as to how well the lobbying efforts by arts organizations are paying off. "We thought we had gained momentum," sighed Michael Kaiser Michael M. Kaiser is President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts [1] in Washington DC.

Dubbed "the turnaround king" for his work at such arts institutions as the Kansas City Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre,
, executive director of American Ballet Theatre American Ballet Theatre, one of the foremost international dance companies of the 20th cent. It was founded in 1937 as the Mordkin Ballet and reorganized as the Ballet Theatre in 1940 under the direction of Lucia Chase and Rich Pleasant. .

Executives at two organizations which received NEA funds in 1997 -- the Joyce Theater The Joyce Theater is a 472-seat dance performance venue located in the Chelsea area of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The Joyce Theater Foundation, the organization founded in 1982 that operates the theater, also owns the Joyce SoHo dance center located in a  in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City

City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S.
 and the Stephen Petronio Stephen Petronio is an artistic director, choreographer and dancer based in New York City.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1956, he later received a B.A. degree from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he began dancing in 1974.
 Company -- agreed that the truncating of and threat to eliminate the NEA are an ongoing frustration but insisted that lobbying efforts are not in vain. Whether the importance of the NEA funds was seen primarily as a "stamp of approval," a means of drawing out money from other sources, or a way to promote the creative process, agreed that without the NEA funds -- however minimal in terms of actual percentage of budget -- the organizations would suffer without the monies. Kaiser referred to the NEA funds as "our creative money," stating that out of ABT's 1997 $23 million budget, $150,000 directly came from the NEA, "but it is still an integral part. Without NEA funds, there is a chain reaction."

To gauge firsthand the impact the arts organization's efforts have had, Dance Magazine called several key members of the House. A spokesperson for Bob Livingston This article is about the politician. For the Texas musician, see Bob Livingston (musician).

Robert Linlithgow Livingston IV, better known as Bob Livingston (born April 30, 1943), is a Washington, D.C.
 (R-LA), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee In the United States government, the Appropriations Committee can refer to either:
  • the United States House Committee on Appropriations
  • the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations
 and one of the NEA's most vocal critics, especially of funding, said that Livingston has received few NEA-related calls or letters. Those he has received favor phasing out the agency.

Barbara Wainman, spokesperson for Ralph Regula (R-OH R-OH Alcohol (chemistry) ), chairman of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, said "not a lot of phone calls were received. We've had a few letters, and I would say that a handful opposes [cutting NEA funds]."

Mary Bain, chief of staff for retiring Rep. Sidney Yates (D-IL), ranking Democrat on the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, said, "We've had many phone calls and an enormous amount of letters, most in support of the NEA."

However, subcommittee member John Murtha's (D-PA) office reported lackluster support. "We only received eight to ten calls or letters in regard to the last action by the subcommittee," said Murtha's spokesperson, Brad Clemenson. "More of those were in favor of [continuing] NEA funding. However, I will tell you that over the last couple of years, most of the calls and letters we've received have been against funding the NEA."

Arts organizations, while confirming they are firmly committed to lobbying efforts, say it's not always easy to carry them out. Said Russo: "The smaller organizations don't have someone on their staff to whom they can say, `You do the advocacy work, you send these faxes, you deal with these letters, you call these people.' Sure, we wish we could all do more, but the reality is that's why we have [Dance/USA]."

There is always the President Clinton, who has not yet backed down in his support of the NEA. He threatened early on to veto any appropriations bill that eliminates the Endowment. And Hillary Rodham Rodham is an English surname which may refer to a number of persons or places. People
Family of Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2008 presidential candidate and current junior U.S.
 Clinton publicly denounced the committee and subcommittee's recommendations. At press time, there continued to be strong support in the Senate.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:political support for National Endowment for the Arts
Author:Clark, Marika
Publication:Dance Magazine
Date:Sep 1, 1997
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