In tough economy, Hollywood stars make novel arguments for arts funding

Faced with proposed cuts to federal arts funding nationwide, some of Hollywood's biggest stars are adopting novel strategies for lobbying on behalf of the arts.
 
“It’s not enough anymore, in this economy, for actors to just argue why arts funding benefits people,” actress Patricia Arquette told The Hill on Thursday. “I came here to talk to Republicans about how the arts drive huge sectors of this country’s economy."
 

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Arquette is one of a handful of actors lobbying policymakers ahead of Saturday's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, and her trip is part of a joint outreach effort by the Creative Coalition, one of the entertainment industry’s premier advocacy groups. She spoke to The Hill at a dinner at the Ritz-Carlton hosted by the Creative Coalition and Lanmark CEO Lani Hay.
 
This isn’t Arquette’s first visit to Washington to lobby for arts funding, but the star of CBS’s hit drama “Medium” said she wanted to reach beyond the arts’ traditionally friendly political audience.
 
“I had an amazing meeting today with the RAMS,” Arquette said, referring to the Republicans Associated for Mutual Support (RAMS), a group of current and former GOP chiefs of staff. “Obviously, [Republicans] aren’t considered the party that typically supports public arts funding, but we talked about the economic impact of creative work and intellectual property, and we were all reasonable adults, so there was a lot of mutual understanding in the room.
 
“As the country moves beyond a manufacturing economy, one of the areas we’re going to need to stay on top of the world is the creative economy: film, movies, music and technology. After all, isn’t the iPod a work of art?”
 
Arquette isn’t the only actress exploring new angles for arts advocacy this week.

Cheryl Hines, star of HBO’s hit “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” told The Hill that during a meeting Thursday with White House officials organized by the Creative Coalition, she stressed the role played by the arts in the lives of people with disabilities.
 
“I met a teacher earlier today who uses music, among other things, to connect with [disabled] students,” said the actress, whose nephew was born with cerebral palsy.

“As an advocate for people with disabilities, as well as arts funding, I know that any [budget] cuts will affect people who really need the universal experience of art, and in some cases, who can’t communicate otherwise.

"These cuts could prevent people from having that outlet, and I want policymakers to understand this.” 

Hines and Arquette were joined at the dinner Thursday by fellow actors Omar Epps, David Arquette, Tim Daly and Marlon Wayans.