I’m sure you have heard by now that the new administration has threatened to revoke our cultural programming by eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The art budget is a mere 0.02% of our $3.8 trillion federal budget. That may seem a bit abstract. Philip Bump at the Washington Post explained it well:
If you make $50,000 a year, spending the equivalent of what the government spends on these three programs would be like spending less than $10.
And yet that small investment has a huge impact. The NEA and NEH have supported Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre for at least nine rounds. The resulting projects connected our company to communities from Boyle Heights to South Central, from Cal State campuses to LACMA. We were honored to receive an American Masterpiece award for Laundromatinee (pictured), a performance we toured in Laundromats throughout Southern California, Portland and Lower Manhattan.
These projects supported a myriad of artists (dancers, musicians, designers, visual artists, digital artists, and more), brought us to communities that have limited or no access to the arts, and helped connect community leaders to their constituencies. Further, because of the NEA’s support, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre developed a production that we now bring to Los Angeles public schools as the culmination of our arts education programs. Often attending this performance is the first time the students have seen a live dance performance. We’re always so excited to experience that with them, and are proud to bring professional dance to these youth when they are at a young and impressionable age.
Often artworks are beautiful, but that’s not the only thing they are. Artworks of all media have the power to transform neighborhoods, strengthen communities, and empower individuals. Arts are a tool for support, resistance, and change. Given the small cost to taxpayers, and the large benefits the arts reap here in the United States, a good business man or woman would see these programs as a great value, especially given their far-reaching, and lasting impact.
The arts stimulate us to think, feel and act, both as individual citizens, and en masse. Without government support for the arts a few individuals and organizations may succeed with privatized dollars, but many artists’ works will never see the light of day. As a country we risk losing our collective ability to achieve innovation, creative excellence, and authenticity.
Post written by Heidi Duckler