New York’s Lincoln Center has released a statement in defense of continuing federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. The statement, released February 28, was signed by the leaders of the 11 various arts organizations that function within the Center—The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Juilliard School, Lincoln Center Theater, The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, School of American Ballet, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Though cuts to the NEA’s federal funding have not yet been officially announced, a draft budget released by the White House earlier this month revealed that the NEA is one of the programs whose budget may be revised in an attempt to lessen domestic spending. The news prompted some concern among arts organizations, including theatres that rely on the NEA’s support.
Read the full statement below:
“From our stages and screens at Lincoln Center in New York City—which draw more than six million people to the largest performing arts center in the world—to theaters, concert halls, and galleries across America, the arts inspire and delight people from every walk of life, at every stage of life.
A child's early introduction to ballet teaches strength and discipline. A veteran's exposure to art therapy brings healing and hope. A student's participation in music class improves math scores and critical thinking skills. Art shapes achievement, with profound and practical effects.
Still more, art anchors communities. In American cities and towns, arts institutions and districts are breathing life into neighborhoods—attracting investment, spurring development, fueling innovation, and creating jobs. Arts and culture help power the U.S. economy at the astounding level of $704.2 billion each year.
Beyond our shores, American arts institutions are the envy of the world. In a unique public-private model, private sources provide the vast majority of funding for our artists and arts organizations. Government helps in targeted ways at pivotal moments, for example, by providing early funding to get projects off the ground or helping to create or expand promising initiatives to achieve greater reach and impact.
Underlying all of this is the National Endowment for the Arts.
For more than 50 years, the NEA has provided leadership in the public arts arena. Yet today it faces an uncertain future as its federal funding is considered for elimination. The total cost of the NEA is less than one dollar a year for every American. But because it is so successful and its imprimatur so prestigious, every dollar the NEA contributes leads to nine additional dollars being donated from other sources.
A great America needs that kind of return.
We hold close the words of Lincoln Center’s inaugural president, John D. Rockefeller III, who said, “The arts are not for the privileged few, but for the many. Their place is not on the periphery of daily life, but at its center. They should function not merely as another form of entertainment but, rather, should contribute significantly to our well-being and happiness.“
To preserve the human and economic benefits of the arts, we urge continued federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts.“