On March 16, 2017, the White House issued “America First – A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” calling for the elimination of funding for National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Sciences and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The proposal will be considered over the next several months with Congressional action expected by September 20, 2017. This action will set funding grants for West Virginia Fiscal Year 2018 (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019).
As a state agency, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History does not develop or coordinate advocacy efforts. However, part of our mission is to ensure that West Virginians are informed about the impact of the NEA’s budget on arts programs in the Mountain State.
We can supply you with information about the state’s arts programs and grants budgets. You can look to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (www.nasaa-arts.org) and Americans for the Arts (www.americansforthearts.org)for more information on advocacy.
The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies has published “Five Essential Arts Arguments” about the value of arts funding. Here are a few examples of how West Virginia arts organizations meet those arguments. Within your communities there are many other examples of how arts are making a positive difference in the Mountain State.
The arts enrich the American economy.
- In Morgan County, the Morgan Arts Council (MAC) was established in 1977 in the NEA’s initial initiative to encourage local arts councils. Morgan County is one of the state’s smallest counties and arts were limited to a local resort at that time. With NEA funding through the WVDCH and West Virginia Commission on the Arts, Berkeley Springs is a nationally recognized arts destination and a magnet for artists interested in living in the country. The development is a boon to tourism in the Eastern Panhandle and a major economic force in Berkeley Springs.
The arts offer solutions for rural America.
- The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra uses NEA funding for Young People’s Concerts presented to underserved children in a three-state region (West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio). More than 15,000 West Virginia youth have had the opportunity to attend concerts. The Wheeling Youth Orchestra has benefited from the program as middle school students in underserved Wheeling neighborhoods join the Youth Symphony because of the concert program.
- In Wood, Ritchie, Doddridge and Jackson counties, more than 18,000 students have benefited from the Artsbridge annual arts tours which include musical performances, historical characters, and different genres of music, dance and drama. These counties include some of the state’s most underserved communities.
The arts offer cost-effective health treatments that work.
- In Randolph County, the Randolph County Community Arts Center is partnering with the Appalachian Community Health Service’s Life Skills class for mentally disabled adults. Life Skills provides real-world learning, getting these adults into the community to interact with their environment and incorporate the skills they learn. The Arts Center offers a free monthly Brown Bag Concert series which the Life Skills class began attending a year ago. The 25 participants attend every month, enjoying the program and gaining confidence to interact with others.
The arts improve schooling.
- In Kanawha County, the Charleston Ballet works with the Partnership of African American Churches in the Closing the Gap Program, providing formal ballet afterschool instruction for at-risk students in three low-income communities. Last year, three students were chosen to perform in Charleston Ballet’s annual presentation of The Nutcracker. The night of the performance, 35 family and community members came to support the young dancers.
- In Greenbrier County, Greenbrier Valley Theatre offers arts programs to more than 1,000 youth in underserved communities in Nicholas and Wyoming counties. Each fall Greenbrier Valley Theatre presents a matinee program for students that features literature, helping to integrate the arts with other academic programming.
The arts offer a net gain for government.
- In Cabell County, the Huntington Museum of Art is a major tourism attraction, annually serving 41,000 patrons who come from all 50 states, 38 foreign countries and 5 continents. The museum impacts the local economy directly with $2.2M in household income, $123,953 in local government revenue and $157,759 in state government revenue.