US congressional Report Card on the Arts

press room

For Immediate Release
10/19/2004

Contact:
Virginia Anagnos
Goodman Media
212.576.2700 x222
virginia@goodmanmedia.com

Americans for the Arts Action Fund Issues Its
First-Ever Congressional Report Card on the Arts

Thirty-Three House Members Get Highest Possible Grade;
Best State Delegations Are Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, and Hawaii

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 19, 2004 — The Arts Action Fund created earlier this month by Americans for the Arts, the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America, issued today its first-ever Congressional Arts Report Card. The Report Card, which covers the 108th Congress (2003-2004), addresses only the U.S. House of Representatives, since the U.S. Senate has taken no arts-specific votes during that period.

The Report Card assigns each Member of the House of Representatives a letter grade and numerical score based on his or her voting record on specific arts and arts education policy issues. Eleven separate government actions are covered, and each is weighted based on its importance to the arts—with the greatest weight given to four votes on funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). A perfect score equals 100 points, and the points are correlated to a letter grade of A+ through F. The Report Card also includes a detailed arts voting record for each Member.

Thirty-three House Members received the highest possible grade (A+). However, the average grade for the House was a B. Arts support is increasingly bipartisan, the Report Card shows. The entire Report Card, containing the grades of every Member of the House of Representatives, can be found online at http://www.ArtsActionFund.org.

When the grades of the Members of each state delegation in the House of Representatives are averaged on a state-by-state basis, the highest-scoring state delegations are Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, and Hawaii. It should be noted that these states have small House delegations, with only Connecticut having more than two House members. Among states with delegations of 10 or more House Members, Massachusetts and New York finish in front. A complete list of the state delegation scores is attached.

The release of the Congressional Arts Report Card is the first action taken by the Arts Action Fund, whose creation was announced earlier this month by Americans for the Arts. In November, a national citizens’ membership campaign will be launched to encourage Americans to join and support the Arts Action Fund. Americans for the Arts itself focuses primarily on representing arts organizations throughout the nation.

“This Report Card provides a compelling way for the public to assess the level of support that each Member of the House of Representatives provides for the arts,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Overall, it shows that a convincing majority of the House favors modest funding increases for the NEA, and an even larger majority opposes any cuts.”

The release of the Congressional Arts Report Card comes at a time of increasing support for the arts by Members of Congress. In 2004, the House approved an increase for the NEA by its widest margin since 2000. Despite the increase in support, however, arts funding is still barely half its pre-1995 level when adjusted for inflation, indicating that much work remains for arts advocates.

It also comes at a time when other support for the arts has been declining. Over the past two years, 40 percent of the funding for state arts councils has been eliminated; several states have practically eliminated arts funding; and the share of private giving to the arts has declined by over 40 percent in the last decade. In 1992, the arts received 8.4 percent of all charitable giving. By 2003, it had dropped to 5.4 percent.

The Arts Action Fund will engage citizens throughout the nation in making known their support for the arts and advocating increasing support from all funding sources.

The Arts Action Fund adds a new dimension to arts advocacy in the United States by providing a vehicle through which any citizen can help ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to appreciate, value, and participate in the arts. Created by Americans for the Arts, the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America, the Arts Action Fund is spearheading a national citizenship membership campaign to increase support for the Arts. Additional information on the Arts Action Fund, including information on how to join, is available at http://www.ArtsActionFund.org.

Following is the listing of the average scores of the delegations of each state and national region in the U.S. House of Representatives: (The District of Columbia is not included, because its Representative does not have voting status.)

See the State Rankings here: http://www.artsactionfund.org/press/2004/2004_10_19.asp

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