It’s been another sweltering week of debt ceiling debate and madness, including the successful thwarting of an amendment to eliminate the NEA. Last week the House debated the House Interior Appropriations Bill, which included funding for the NEA. On Monday, July 25, the House defeated, by a vote of 284-126, an Amendment introduced by Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-KS-1) which would have eliminated all funding for the agency. This Amendment was put forth on behalf of the Republican Study Committee and it sought to make many cuts in the Interior Bill. Last Wednesday, July 27, the House debated an Amendment introduced by Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI-7) which would decrease the NEA’s FY12 appropriation by $10 million over the $20 million cut already included in the Appropriations Bill.
TCG’s director of government and education programs, Laurie Baskin, texted me at 9:30 urging me to tune into CSPAN, and I am glad I did. Numerous Members of Congress used the motion “strike the last word” in order to gain five minutes to speak against the Walberg amendment. It was inspiring to hear so many representatives articulating the value of the arts in their communities, and I am sure many of you would recognize the language and arguments you’ve made to your representatives through your calls, letters and visits. One member questioned national priorities noting that “$10 million dollars is what we spend for one hour of the war in Afghanistan.” Others pointed out that every $1 invested by the NEA returns $9 in economic benefit, but they also talked compellingly about the arts as crucial to our nation’s identity and legacy. There were passionate and inspiring Floor speeches by Representative James Moran (D-VA-8), Ranking Member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee; Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Mike Simpson (R-ID-2); Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY-28); Representative David Cicilline (D-RI-1); Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6); Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY-3); Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ-12); Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA-3) and Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN-3). The Amendment to further cut the NEA failed in a recorded vote 240-181 with 55 Republicans and 185 Democrats voting against the cut! The Interior Bill itself has not yet been voted on, and further amendments could still be introduced. Your voices have most certainly been heard! Please continue to let your elected officials know the importance of public support for the arts to your theatres. If you’re interested in reading some of the Floor speeches or viewing video feeds from the House Floor, check out the Advocacy News page of our website.
I also wanted to remind you of an opportunity available to TCG Member Theatres through our partnership with the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF); you can take advantage of FREE consulting sessions with finance professionals. These Office Hours may be useful for you if you’re interested in discussing a particular financial concern, i.e. financial reporting, planning or strategy. Only a few slots are left, so if you’re interested you can sign up here. Also, if you’re located in the Bay Area, there is still time to register for the free NFF workshop Programmatic Modeling for Artistic and Financial Strength (August 9 in San Francisco) on how to best to incorporate your financial goals throughout the planning process. Visit the NFF section of our website to learn more and register.
Lastly, I hope you’ll take a look at this week’s I AM THEATRE video of Eric Bogosian, best known as the author of Talk Radio and subUrbia as well as a number of award winning Off-Broadway solos. He talks about getting a big break in his career from Joe Papp and his story makes me think of the big break I received when I was 23 years old and met Howard Shalwitz of Woolly Mammoth. I fell in love with theatre then, and never looked back! By the way, I learned last week, while at an exhibition at the Kitchen in New York, Eric Bogosian was the Kitchen’s first dance curator. And if you’re planning to be in New York, let us know because we’ll have opportunities for you to videotape your stories in our office. Please contact if you’re interested!
Finally, the TCG book we’re spotlighting this week is Statements by Athol Fugard, in collaboration with actors John Kani and Winston Ntshona. It includes: Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, The Island and Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act.