National funding for the arts, humanities, and public broadcast media are once again on the chopping block in Washington. And Vermont has much to lose.
More than one million federal dollars are awarded annually to the Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Humanities Council. These funds are matched and granted out for programs throughout the state. VPR and Vermont PBS receive over one point eight million dollars from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and this support is matched many times over. Without federal underwriting, these organizations and their programs will be compromised.
The Flynn Center, where I work, paid two and a half million dollars in salaries to two hundred and eighty seven employees last year. Multiply this by people working at Shelburne Museum, Paramount Theater, Bennington and Brattleboro Museums, Circus Smirkus – and others – and it’s easy to see that many jobs would be at risk with the loss of arts funding.
Sad too, would be the diminishment of the transformative power of the arts to enrich our lives, to celebrate other cultures, to connect us to our creative selves, to share fun with family and friends, to ennoble us. Art nourishes, disrupts, and inspires.
At the Flynn, federal funding helps to support, not only world-class performances and community activities with visiting artists, but also twenty seven thousand dollars subsidize scholarships for classes, six thousand kids attend student matinees free, eighty seven schools host in-classroom workshops, and fifty five social service agencies give two thousand discounted tickets to clients. Every nonprofit across the state has similar stories, and I can’t imagine the broadcast media landscape without VPR and Vermont PBS.
We can let Congress know how essential the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting are.
We can also support the arts locally - by buying art, attending theater, or taking tap lessons; by enjoying dance performances - live and on PBS - and singing with a chorus; by listening to music - in person and on VPR, writing a poem, buying a local author's book, making art with our children at a museum's family day; even debating the merits of an independent film and uploading our own onto social media.
And we can donate to organizations that matter, because participation is our most important renewable resource for the arts, humanities, and public broadcast media.