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A Plea for the Arts

Equity in the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts logo

Something has to change. For the better. We know this, we advocate for this. As artists we often have a lens on the world which enables us to see the places that need fixing, healing, bettering. We often bring this into our work, 
endowing it with our own definition of beauty. The beauty of art is in its profound ability to irrevocably transform not just the artist who creates it but the viewer who is present for its unveiling. The impact art has on humanity is necessary and valuable for many reasons, but the one I find most important is its ability to grant endless possibility.

Life is full of highs and lows, and art is a haven to escape the Richter scale of life or face it head on. We can recharge, galvanize, and restart. Art is creation, and as long as creation exists, hope does too. And hope, the last thing we store in ourselves when we have nothing left, is everything. It is that one remaining light, the last refuge when the world has stripped us of everything else.

As artists I believe it is part of our calling to share light, to impart stories, to reflect, to question, to challenge, to enliven, to show others they are seen. It’s not always comfortable, almost never affordable, and rarely provides a livable wage. Such is the reality of the situation that artists continually surmount, but we need help. We can’t do all the heavy lifting ourselves.

The National Endowment for the Arts, which is now in jeopardy of being defunded, is critical to the arts community. If we’re talking numbers, the NEA accounts for less than .002% of federal spending. That’s less than 50 cents a year per person, but what it means for artists is huge. We’re used to sharing resources, working hard for the funding we get and making it last. So that little bit goes a LONG way.

The NEA is an essential part of our community, a strong source of support, and a tangible indicator of the value our nation holds for its artistic community and for the culture it brings. I ardently hope this continues. Our possibilities are only as limitless as the opportunities we give our artists.

So, what now? What next? There is one action step ahead that could make a dent. If you click here you’ll see a chance to sign a petition to save the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. That’s step one in what may be an uphill battle, but one we are not unaccustomed to fighting. So keep on.

A version of this article appeared in The Lark's February 2017 e-newsletter. To get more stories like this straight to your inbox, sign up for The Lark's mailing list now!