Important Message from the President & CEO of Americans for the Arts

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Important Message from the President & CEO of Americans for the Arts

Category : News

CALL TO ACTION
January 26, 2017

Dear Americans for the Arts Members and Friends,

I am writing to you today about the status of federal funding for the arts in the new Administration and U.S. Congress and about what you should do right now and over the coming months.

Last week on Thursday, January 19, I sent our Americans for the Arts members, stakeholders, and constituents at the local, state, and national levels an alert calling attention to an article in The Hill newspaper which reported that two Trump transition team advisors are recommending elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and privatization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I was asked to respond to this troubling news and gave interviews in the following publications: Washington Post, Variety, The Hill, and Paste Magazineamong others.  

Also last Thursday, Nina Ozlu Tunceli, executive director of our affiliated grassroots advocacy organization Americans for the Arts Action Fund, sent an action alert outlining four quick action steps to its members. The Arts Action Fund website www.ArtsActionFund.org will continue to have the most up-to-date information about ongoing advocacy efforts and actions to take regarding federal funding for the arts. The Arts Action Fund is also working with state arts advocacy groups on a coordinated campaign that will be released next week.

Today, I sent a letter to President Trump asking him to preserve federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But I would like the next letter that I send to the President to be accompanied by a petition signed by 100,000 Arts Action Fund members which can be found here. Over the coming weeks, I expect that there will be a number of opinion articles and targeted attacks regarding public funding for the arts. To help further explain what is-or isn’t-happening right now, Americans for the Arts has prepared a few FAQs from questions the staff have already fielded. We also need to organize and galvanize our forces. Please  sign the petition and get at least five of your friends to do the same so we can raise our collective and individual voices with precision and in a unified manner.

I believe our collective job in the arts community is to tell our story and make our case again and again at the federal, state, and local levels. Below are the action steps I hope you will take as soon as possible:

  • Take two minutes to contact your two Senators and your House representatives now.
  • Join the Arts Action Fund (for free) so we can get alerts to you as quickly as possible and you can respond to decision-makers fast.  
  • Work to get other colleagues to join the Arts Action Fund. We ask that you pledge to reach out to at least five board, staff, members, or audience members. Two national partners, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs and Blick Art Supply, brought in 42,000 members and 37,000 customers respectively to become arts advocates for our cause.
  • Register to attend  National Arts Advocacy Day on March 20-21 in Washington, DC where you can add your voice in person.
  • Inform us of any specific actions impacting the arts in your community as a result of the President’s new executive order on sanctuary cities. Please send an e-mail to Ruby Harper at rharper@artsusa.org.
This is what you can do now, but we will circle back to you at several points along the timeline below to customize and target messages as the process unfolds.

We’ve created a Rapid Response Team here and put together a general timeline of what to expect:

  • The White House will issue dozens of sweeping executive orders and form new policy positions within the first 90 days.
  • Americans for the Arts and the Arts Action Fund will release a coordinated petition, grassroots advocacy, social media, and advertising campaign in early February.
  • The President will address a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017, and will likely present the Administration’s FY 2018 budget around this time.
  • Americans for the Arts is set to present National Arts Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill on March 21, 2017.
  • The US House of Representatives and specifically the House Appropriations Subcommittees will set initial FY 2018 funding levels for every federal agency in the Spring (March-May) of this year.
  • The federal government’s current FY 2017 Continuing Resolution Appropriations expires April 28, 2017, and we need to keep a watchful eye on continuation of federal funding for the arts through the entire fiscal year ending September 30, 2017 
  • The US Senate and Senate Appropriation Subcommittees will finalize their positions by July 4. 
  • A final conference committee agreement between the House and the Senate will be reached by leaders from these committees by September/October.
At the national level, Americans for the Arts will continue to coordinate with national, state, and local arts groups on advocacy efforts through:
  • Ongoing strategizing with our national arts service organization colleagues, especially the 85 national partners of National Arts Advocacy Day, on direct lobbying.
  • Ongoing strategizing with our local arts, state arts, and arts education advocacy colleagues, including the 50+ members of our State Arts Action Network, on grassroots lobbying.
  • Expanding and re-targeting our national advertising strategy.
  • Continuing press and interview pursuits such as the interviews from over this past weekend.
  • Strategizing with, and involving, key pro-arts leaders from business, government, and the arts who connect well with the new Administration.
  • Identifying incoming White House staff liaisons to the arts sector.

Just yesterday, President Trump signed an Executive Order that could potentially deny certain cities, such as sanctuary cities, billions of dollars in federal grants, including NEA funds, if they do not follow new immigration enforcement protocols. Americans for the Arts is already developing strategies about a number of issues related to federal arts funding, and we are proactively investigating new opportunities for arts funding in the coming months; an example is legislation regarding expanding our nation’s infrastructure.

Finally, we are seeing that the current efforts to eliminate the NEA seem to be based on old Heritage Foundation arguments formulated more than two decades ago. Even though these arguments are dated, that does not mean they won’t have weight with new legislative listeners. The argument to eliminate or slash federal arts funding comes up every year, and your collective efforts have stopped that from happening in the past. But in the current political environment, it is critical that all of us redouble our efforts. 

I think it is good to know what claims might be put forth so that we are all prepared with locally based strategies and answers. To help with this, our team is preparing rebuttals to each of these potential arguments which will be posted on the Americans for the Arts and Action Fund websites and forwarded to Arts Action Fund members. This information can help you make a case for federal funding with your congressional representatives.

Americans for the Arts is committed to working with you to ensure that all Americans have access to the arts and that we protect and cultivate funding for the arts on the local, state, and federal level. 

Thank you for your hard work.

Robert L. Lynch
President and CEO
Americans for the Arts


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Kristin Balouch, Writer, Brooklyn NY

We have one word to describe the our experience here at 360 Xochi Quetzal, and that is MAGIC! The casita is very spacious, allowing for lots of room to create. It is very comfortable and clean, and has everything you could possibly need for your personal residency. We especially enjoy spending time on the relaxing balcony. Cobra and Chris are available and very helpful. The Residency Handbook in the casita addresses all of our questions in detail and offers suggestions for things to try around the area. You will often hear live music in the early evening from the Malecon. It feels very safe here, and even more secure having the Red Cross right across the street. It has been a wonderful experience, and Kristen and I  would like to return each year.

Orion Kugel,Photographer

We have one word to describe the our experience here at 360 Xochi Quetzal, and that is MAGIC! The casita is very spacious, allowing for lots of room to create. It is very comfortable and clean, and has everything you could possibly need for your personal residency. We especially enjoy spending time on the relaxing balcony. Cobra and Chris are available and very helpful. The Residency Handbook in the casita addresses all of our questions in detail and offers suggestions for things to try around the area. You will often hear live music in the early evening from the Malecon. It feels very safe here, and even more secure having the Red Cross right across the street. It has been a wonderful experience, and Orion and I would like to return each year.

Kristen Pobatschnig, Painter
“Applying for the free Winter residency of Xochi Quetzal was the start of many positive transformations. The silence I found for myself during the residency, allowed me not only to write the best last chapter I can write at this stage of my evolution, it also granted me a most sought-after introspection moment during which I read my dreams and studied ancient Eastern writings. The serenity of the lake and presence of other artists inspired me to get mentally ready and organized for my future as a novelist. I am particularly fond of spending the holidays abroad with ‘strangers’. It always infuses me with these wild insights and whims. Our group was just lovely, the artists one by one very interesting. Cobra and Christian are warm and graceful hosts who made life easy. All in all, Xochi Quetzal was a weighty meditation, a poetic experience that carried me through the rest of Mexico in newness and will resonate long after.”
Heidi Souffriau, Writer
“I was partly inspired to apply for the Xochi Quetzal residency by The Retro Cocktail Hour — a popular Saturday night radio show on Kansas Public Radio 91.5 that features exotica music (a form of tropical jazz).  My hope was for the palm trees,  lakeside sunrises, and culture of Chapala & Mexico at large to inform my creative process.  These elements did precisely that, and the generous hospitality of Cobra & her partner Christian provided me with a cozy composing environment.”
Note from Staff: Listen to the music created during Andrew’s residency -Winter 2016
Andrew Morgan, Composer, Musician

Chapala is a safe, spiritually charged, beautiful place. Wild horses run through town.  It’s a place where you greet strangers on the street.

I walked along the lake in meditation a great deal. I hiked the looming cerro overlooking town. I biked all over the countryside. I wrote, documented, created composed soundscapes utilizing field recordings, and built small maquette light sculptures based on my experiences. I attended traditional temazcals, and sat alone in cathedrals.

It was pivotal for me in a spiritual sense more than a career advancing experience. I’m very grateful for it, and Deborah Kruger is a wonderful advocate to keep in contact with. I truly recommend the residency.

Justin R. Lytle, Sound Artist & Sculptor

My residency at 360 Xochi Quetzal in summer 2015 was both restorative and productive.  I was inspired by the beautiful studio and the surrounding Chapala  / Jalisco region.  The setting worked well for me in terms of inspiring and completing new work, and learning the history and customs of the area.  The flexible residency requirements allowed an easy engagement with other residents, and encouraged me to participate in Chapala and Guadalajara communities.  There are many contemporary art venues in Guadalajara, which are an easy bus ride from Chapala.

Michael Pribich, Sculptor

“Not only was this residency situated in one of the most beautifully mystical, culturally resonant, and stimulating settings imaginable, it also managed to be both peaceful and galvanizing: the perfect combination for immersing oneself in a creative project without hesitation or distraction. Deborah and Christian’s home was an oasis. One of my fellow residents remarked to me that “this place has amazing energy for getting work done,” and I wholeheartedly agree: the atmosphere seemed to hum with a low-key, generative productivity, one that helped me get closer than I’d been in many months to actually fully realizing and finishing a long story. I wish I was still there among the bougainvillea, the jade vines, the dogs and the pelicans.”

Suzanne K. Rivecca, Author

Chapala has become my home away from home. The Xochi Quetztal residency is run efficiently. Cobra and her team are friendly, accessible, and professional. My stay in Chapala is enhanced by the personal relationships I have developed with several of the team members. The casita I stay in is very well maintained and fully equipped. The studio area is large and ready for me to engage in art as soon as I arrive.  The weather is always fantastic. The lake, the town(s), the life, the restaurants, the view, the very friendly local people all call me back again and again. I love it!

Zahava Sherez, Sculptor

“This was the most work I’ve ever done in a single month in my life. I will never forget what an incredible experience this was and I thank you for honoring me with a residency at 360 Xochi Quetzal. The reference material I gathered throughout the trip to Chapala, Mexico is going to fuel my work for years to come. Thank you for everything! You run an incredible residency program!!!”

Santiago Galeas, Painter