Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: House Vote to Increase NEA and NEH Funding a Victory of Imagination Over Ideology

July 17, 2002


Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued the following statement today following the bipartisan vote this afternoon to support an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that would increase the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) by $15 million. The amendment was approved by a vote of 234-192.

"Today's vote by the House to increase funding for the NEA and NEH is a victory of imagination over ideology.

In recent years, we have worried a great deal about the digital divide -- a lack of access to technology that could limit opportunity for lower-income Americans. We should be equally concerned about a creativity crisis.

Studies have proven that arts education is not just a frill tacked on to the vital work of learning reading, writing and arithmetic. Art education increases skills in all of these subjects, as well as in language development and writing and spatial reasoning.

Grants from the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities leverage millions of dollars each year in private support for arts projects. In many communities, they are the sole source of arts funding.

This amendment would provide an additional $10 million for the NEA’s "Challenge America" initiative, which is specifically designed to provide access to the arts for underserved communities. According to the Georgia Institute of Technology, the arts industry generations millions of jobs and $134 billion in economic activity every year.

The amendment also provides $5 million for the NEH -- the nation’s largest source of support for research and scholarship in the humanities.

I want to make it very clear that this amendment is not an increase in funding, but an attempt to recoup some of the cuts that the NEA faced in 1995 when its budget was slashed by 40 percent. There is strong, bipartisan consensus now that those cuts were felt too deeply by some of our most vulnerable young people.

Exposure to the arts through the NEA helps children build confidence in their class work, honors their creativity, and unleashes the power of their imagination. The poet, Shelley, once wrote that the greatest force for moral good is imagination. With the challenges that we face today, we need all the imagination we can muster."

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