“To eliminate the NEA is to surrender to the idea that our nation’s art is of no value”


“Killing the N.E.A. has, of course, long been a cause célèbre for so-called budget hawks and social conservatives. But contrary to claims from Trump and Fox News, and to the insecurities of artists, the N.E.A. is not a federal spigot for decadent city élites. Rather, its grant-making effectively spans the country and helps rural, not-New York, not-wealthy, Trump-friendly districts. Despite the decades-long attempts on the right to paint the N.E.A. as rarefied snobbery welching off the state, forty per cent of N.E.A. activity happens in high-poverty areas. Thirty-six per cent of its institutional grants help groups working with disadvantaged populations. And a third of grants serve low-income audiences. The N.E.A. also helps military veterans, a decidedly non-urban élite population. The agency recently added four clinical sites to its existing seven; these sites provide ‘creative-arts therapies for service members, veterans, and families dealing with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.’”

The Academy of American Poets is also running a series of short statements by poets on why the NEA Matters.  Here’s part of one by Tyehimba Jess:

“NEA funding is a landmark for so many artists, a sign that someone out there hears their heart-borne signals through the storm and wants to share and boost that signal —that there is an official branch of this nation that values their contribution to the American story. To eliminate the NEA is to surrender to the idea that our nation’s art is of no value, that its citizenry are not worth the small investment the NEA represents in our national budget. We can’t afford to deny our multi-tongued, multi-hued, many-faithed populace the life buoy of the NEA. We cannot afford to surrender to the storm.”

from Tyehimba Jess on Why the NEA Matters  



Tyehimba Jess

the war speaks at night
with its lips of shredded children,
with its brow of plastique
and its fighter jet breath,

Read rest of poem 


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