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

Because the National Endowment for the Arts supports artistic excellence and improves access to the arts by granting funds to nonprofit arts organizations, like those I work and volunteer for, I’m calling on our federal officials to support an increase in funding for the NEA beyond its 1993 funding level of $174 million.

That funding figure equals $277 million in today’s dollars. Our small communities contain some of our nations greatest cultural assets.

Investing in the arts creates strong rural economic development efforts that help cities and towns promote the richness of their cultural heritage and support creative entrepreneurship. In Laramie alone, award winning projects and museums that attract new businesses and tourists to our community have benefited from federal funding via the National Endowment for the Art’s allocation to the Wyoming Arts Council. The Laramie Mural Project, Laramie Public Art Coalition and Pop Up Art Walk would be difficult to support without NEA funds. According to an article in the Casper Star Tribune published March 16, “The NEA currently provides about 40 percent of the Wyoming Arts Council’s total budget. The state’s general fund provides about 60 percent”. It goes on to say, “the Wyoming Art’s Council awarded $893,810 in grants for 2015” to “25 artists, 123 nonprofit organizations, 17 state government entities, 17 county government, five municipal entities and four other grantees”. Laramie is a community that benefits greatly from Wyoming Arts Council funding. Across the country, the role of the arts is recognized as a necessary quality of life amenity and economic engine. Investment follows creativity.

I call on all lawmakers to support funding and policies at the federal level that recognize the growth potential and direct benefits of encouraging cities and states to strategically invest in the arts as an economic development tool.

Trey Sherwood

Laramie

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