Dear Jason Lewis,
My name is Chris Neiner, and I am a constituent of the second congressional district of Minnesota. My permanent residence is in central Burnsville, but I am temporally living in Bloomington, Indiana to obtain a Bachelor of Music (BM) in composition from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. I am writing to you because of a concern regarding our federal government’s interest in eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts. I strongly believe this action would disrupt the artistic legacy of our state.
Growing up, I was very fortunate to live a state blessed with many artistic organizations, several of which receive funding through grants from the National Endowment for Arts. I had compositions of mine performed by the Minnesota Sinfonia and the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, performed in chamber music groups coached by musicians of the St. Paul Orchestra, studied composition for free with Minnesota-composer Edie Hill through the Schubert Club composition mentorship program, heard the Minnesota Orchestra perform in their Inside the Classics series and Future Classics concert where they performed new music by up-and-coming young composers. Even with music aside, many students and I had school field trips to the Guthrie Theater for literature classes in high school. I could not be where I am today without the art opportunities and education available in our state. Today, these organizations and their programs continue to contribute to the educations of young Minnesota citizens and enrich the greater Minnesota community.
Since 1998, over one thousand grants from the National Endowment for the Arts have been provided for art organizations in Minnesota. Twenty of these grants were for our congressional district. Beyond the organizations I have mentioned, grant recipients include, but are not limited to, Bloomington Theatre and Art Center, Carleton College, Northfield Arts Guild, Rural America Arts Partnership, Anderson Center and Sheldon Theater in Red Wing, Rochester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, Rochester Art Center, St. Cloud Civic Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of St. Cloud, Mankato Symphony Orchestra, Bemidji Symphony, Children's Theater Company and School, Riverland Community College, St. Catherine University, Regents of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, Minneapolis Pops Orchestra Association, Minnesota Chorale, Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Public Radio, and the American Composers Forum.
These grants provided by the National Endowment for the Arts have supported a variety of programs: a concert series featuring international performers, workshops brining elementary students to artistic professionals, productions of new plays by local artists, an educational music series of new compositions by significant American composers for middle school and high school bands, visiting guest lectures series, music festivals brining talented faculty to students, outreach activities for senior citizens and people with disabilities, the creation and distribution of historical, educational DVD materials, and financial support to preserve jobs endangered by declines in philanthropic funding in economic crisis, and more. You can find more information about grant recipients at the National Endowment for the arts website: https://www.arts.gov/grants/recent-grants
Minnesota has an artistic legacy, one of the best in the nation.
Please tell Washington to keep it that way.
Arts programs and organizations in society have shown to increase civic participation and community engagement, and cutting funding for the arts goes against the goal of uniting America in this heated time. The National Endowment for the Arts poses almost no financial burden for the United States government. The total appropriation for the endowment was $147,949,000 in 2016. Comparatively, 0.0002% of the USA military budget (approximately $600,000,000,000).