Southeast Tourism Society Statement on Federal Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts

The arts are a defining element of a community. Drawing on history, culture, geography, ethnic and religious traditions, and creative talent, the arts offer a fuller, more vibrant story of a community. For many travelers the arts provide an authentic, one of kind experience that defines exceptional travel.

The National Endowment for the Arts(NEA)is the independent federal agency that works to give people across America the opportunity to participate in and experience the arts. Established by Congress in 1965, NEA’s funding is project-based and is distributed to thousands of non-profits each year, along with partnerships and special arts initiatives, research and other programsthat contribute to the vitality of communities, students and schools, workplace and culture. The NEA is the only funder, public or private, that provides equal access to the arts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. The NEA supports activities such as performances, exhibitions, healing arts, art education programs, festivals, and artist residences.

In theSoutheast, the tourism sector has directly benefitted from the NEA through its program on Folk and Traditional Arts, which has reinvigorated artistic traditions, supported apprenticeship programs, and sponsored folk life festivals. The NEA has also strengthened the arts community through State and Regional partnerships; and funding public programming in Museums, which supports the development of lectures, gallery talks, performances, and catalogues.

According to research by Americans for the Arts, each year 76% of American leisure travelers participate in cultural activities while traveling, contributing more than $171 billion to the U.S. economy. America cultural travelers spend,on average,60% more than other types of travelers, about $1,300 per trip compared to $800 per trip. International visitors to the U.S. also partake in arts and cultural activities. In a 2012 survey, 28.4% of international travelers visited an American art museum or gallery, while 18.4 % attended a concert, play, or musical.

Despite a long track record of supporting community arts programs that play an essential role in driving tourism to the Southeast, the Administration has proposed to cut$15 million in FY17and eliminate theNEA in FY18.

Southeast Tourism Society calls on Congress and the President of the United States to fund this essential federal agency at $155 million in both the FY17 and FY18 budgets recognizing the vital role NEA plays in driving the creative economy and building vibrant communities.