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Readers Respond

Why government should invest in the arts

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

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

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Our schools need more arts education. Despite including the arts as one of the 10 core academic subjects, the No Child Left Behind law has pushed arts classes to the side.

Schools, especially those that are struggling, can retain their best teachers by becoming incubators for creativity and innovation and places where students want to learn and teachers want to teach.

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Students with an education rich in the arts have better grade-point averages, score better on standardized tests in reading and math and have lower dropout rates across all socioeconomic 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.

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. I call on all lawmakers to support funding and policies that recognize the growth potential of the arts and the benefits of encouraging cities and states to invest in them in order to drive economic development.

Van Nguyen H, Arlington, Va.


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