An investment in the arts is an investment in economic growth

According to Americans for the Arts, the nonprofit arts industry (museums, theater and dance companies, performing arts centers, orchestras, arts councils and others) generates $22.3 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues annually — a yield well beyond their collective $4 billion in arts allocations.

Because the National Endowment for the Arts supports artistic excellence and improves access to the arts by granting funds to nonprofit arts organizations, I call on our federal officials to support an increase in funding for the NEA beyond its 1993 funding level of $174 million. That funding figure equals $277 million in today’s dollars.

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Our schools need more arts education. Despite including the arts as being one of the 10 core academic subjects, the No Child Left Behind law has pushed arts classes to the side. Schools, especially those struggling, can retain their best teachers by becoming incubators for creativity and innovation; places where students want to learn and teachers want to teach. Students with an education rich in the arts have better GPAs, score better on standardized tests in reading and math, and have lower dropout rates — findings that cut across all socio-economic categories. Congress should support an expansion of the federal arts education program to provide the best models for schools to include the arts in their curriculum.

Our rural communities contain some of the greatest cultural assets of our country. Rural economic development should be strengthened to help these communities promote the richness of their heritage and assist local artists with their entrepreneurship.

Across the country, the role of the arts as an economic engine is growing in acceptance and strength. I call on all lawmakers to support funding and policies at the federal level that would recognize the growth potential and direct benefits of encouraging cities and states to strategically invest in the arts in order to drive economic development.

Silver Spring, Md.


 

Why are US taxpayer dollars being spent on Armenia’s militarization?

From Jayhun Mollazade

It is hard to understand why the administration is asking in its fiscal 2016 budget for $18.3 million more in economic aid to the pro-Russian and pro-Iranian nation of Armenia. 

According to a report released earlier this year by a German-government-financed think tank, the Bonn International Center for Conversion, Armenia ranks third as the world’s most militarized country relative to population and size of economy. While U.S. taxpayers’ money is wasted, Armenia’s government, which hosts thousands of Russian troops in its several military bases, is free to spend more on militarization. In fact, the center’s 2014 Global Militarization Index shows that Armenia is the European continent’s most militarized nation. Who is it militarizing itself against? Armenia has 179 soldiers and paramilitaries per 10,000 inhabitants, more than any of its neighbors. Even Russia, with an economy and population that dwarfs Armenia, finished in fifth place — after Syria, which is fourth.

This needs to stop: the U.S. government should not waste taxpayer money by helping an already aggressive nation like Armenia to arm itself more. Armenia should be getting much less in aid, and no military aid at all.

Washington, D.C.

 

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