You have probably seen the news: the President’s FY 2018 Budget blueprint seeks to eliminate (not just cut) funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
In 2015, the NEA celebrated their 50th year and awarded 2,300 grants in every single Congressional district in our country, half of which benefitted underserved communities . These grants supported 30,000+ readings, concerts, and performances, 5,000+ art exhibitions, and even helped bring the arts to television and radio. In the literary realms, the NEA awarded individual fellowships to poets and translators, many of whom are members of our community. As Lambda Literary emphasized in their own response to the released budget,
Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts have afforded LGBTQ writers the time and freedom to take risks and small presses the opportunity to publish work that otherwise may have never found an audience.
You also may be unaware that the NEA and NEH are a major reason AWP exists today. The Literary Network reports that “The NEA helped AWP to hold it first conference and to hire its first staffer in the 1970s.” For another decade, it offered assistance to AWP with various projects and improvements. We are not sure what AWP’s budget from the NEA and NEH are today, but it’s probably not too much of a stretch to say that these cuts/eliminations will have a direct impact on the conference and our caucus. These budget decisions are not only affecting our lives, but our craft, our ability to network, and our ability to sustain a creative community.
In a recent press conference, Mick Malvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budge, referred to the new budget blueprint as an “America First” budget, but we are uncertain what part of America is being put first. Cutting the NEA will result in an elimination of support to every single Congressional District in this country. The NEA’s portion of the federal budget ($147.9 million) translates to roughly $0.46 per American, per year–less than most people find between their couch cushions.
As representatives of the LGBTQ Caucus, as artists in our communities, and as Americans, we firmly believe that art and exposure to art is part of what makes America great. The NEA is a major support system for artists and the various systems by which their art is brought to the public. We recognize that the announced budget is only a blueprint. The process by which the National Budget gets approved is long–and that is why it is so important to make our voices heard now.
Please contact your representatives. Call, write postcards or letters, visit them in their offices, take whatever form of action you can. We understand that there are many pressing issues right now. Many of us are stretched thin, but we urge you, please take a moment to act. Then urge your friends to do the same.
If you’re not sure where to go or who to contact, use the links below to find information about:
You can also find this information via TEXT. Just text your zip code to (520) 200-2223, and you will receive the names and telephone numbers for your representatives.
Finally, if you have a story you would like share in a guest blog post either about the NEA or another issue that affects you as LGBTQ Writers, please let us know. Leave a comment below, or CONTACT US HERE.
The LGBTQ Writers Caucus Executive Board
Tiff Ferentini, President, Miguel M. Morales, Vice President, Jay McCoy, Secretary, Samantha Tetangco, Communications Coordinator, and Sean Patrick Mulroy, Communications Coordinator