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Yesterday, award-winning actor and one of the stars of the much anticipated movie “Hunger Games,” Stanley Tucci, testified for Americans for the Arts on behalf of increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts to $155 million with President and CEO Robert Lynch before members of the House of Representatives Appropriations Interior Subcommittee. The panel has jurisdiction over funding for the NEA. The public witness hearing wrapped up a whirlwind couple of days of arts advocacy for Tucci that included one-on-one meetings the previous day with Interior Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID), Interior Ranking Member Jim Moran (D-VA), stalwart arts champion and Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair, Louise Slaughter (D-NY) with Americans for the Arts staff.
At the testimony alongside Tucci, Robert Lynch, appearing for the 6th straight year before the Subcommittee, provided compelling arguments to Reps. Simpson, Moran, McCollum (D-MN) and Cole (R-OK) that nonprofit arts are thriving despite the tough economic landscape. Bringing to bear research data on the impact of the creative sector on jobs and how the NEA’s grants to nonprofit arts organizations and institutions leverage greater local arts investments, Lynch conveyed to each subcommittee member the critical number of jobs in their specific congressional district and the businesses that employ them. “The arts are about jobs. The arts are about the revitalization of communities.” He also took the opportunity to acknowledge the NEA’s forward thinking in programming through the local government-community- partnerships that are fostered through Our Town grants, the link between our cultural resources and tourism and the trade surplus created arts industry exports to the world.
Mr. Tucci used his own personal narrative as an artist to bolster support for the modest federal arts funds the NEA uses to ensure high-quality arts programming and access to everyone. As his testimony today referenced, Mr. Tucci, as a developing and working artist, was the beneficiary of many of the programs and institutions that the NEA supports in upstate New York. He stated in his testimony “They have helped shape my childhood, my career and now, as a father, my children’s appreciation of the arts.” Tucci cited the NEA’s grants to the theatre program at SUNY Purchase; the Katonah Art Museum, a NEA Blue Star Museum near where he grew up in upstate New York; and the Sundance Institute, where he serves as a member of the Board of Trustees and as a Creative Advisor at the Screenwriters and Directors Labs. Tucci was quick to say that these programs and institutions played a pivotal part in honing him into the artist he is today with support from the NEA. Read Stanley Tucci's full testimony here.
Pictured: Actor Stanley Tucci and Rep. Louise Slaughter