Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation Signs Letter in Support of the NEA

September 1, 2000

On September 1, 2000, eight members of Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation agreed to sign a letter in support of the increased funding for the National Endowment of the Arts as recommended by the Senate. The letter will be sent to Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH) and Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), who are the chair and ranking minority member of the House and Senate conference committee on Interior Appropriations. Signing legislators were Reps. Jim Oberstar, Martin Sabo, Bruce Vento, Collin Peterson, Jim Ramstad, Bill Luther and David Minge, and Sen. Paul Wellstone. Rep. Gil Gutknecht and Sen. Rod Grams did not sign the letter.

Conservative House members had taken funding set aside for cultural appropriations and redirected it toward Indian Health Services earlier this summer, resulting in continued base funding for the NEA at $98 million. In the Senate, an increase in funding passed for a total of $105 million. It is the job of the House and Senate conference committees to reconcile the differences between each version of the Interior Appropriations bill.

YOUR POSTCARDS MADE A DIFFERENCE. Thousands of you sent postcards to your legislators, which showed a great demonstration of how important Minnesotans believe the arts to be in their lives.

The text of the delegation letter is as follows:

Dear Chairman Regula and Ranking Minority Member Dicks:

We are writing to request that you support the proposed Senate increase for the National Endowment for the Arts to $105 million in the Interior Appropriations bill.

The NEA plays a major role in the economic and social development between businesses, communities, schools and individuals.In partnership with state and local resources, NEA funds act as a catalyst for ensuring access to the arts for all individuals, attracting other funding sources and providing a necessary service for increasingly diverse communities. Strong funding for the arts helps children and communities express themselves and develop complete cognitive skills through arts education programming. The NEA also helps economically disadvantaged children and adults gain access to cultural experiences in which they would not otherwise be able to participate. Overall, 92% of Minnesotans believe that the arts are crucial to their quality of life.

As studies have repeatedly shown, the arts are very important to Americans, and particularly to Minnesotans. A good balance of funding sources suggests a strong commitment to ensure continued economic stimulation and growth, a well-rounded education, increased cultural tourism and dynamic community involvement. We urge your support of the full Senate increase for the NEA.

Sincerely yours, etc.

Congratulations! You made your voice heard!