WHEREAS, the arts, humanities and museums are critical to the quality of life and livability of America's cities; and

WHEREAS, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Office of Museum Services (OMS) within the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) are the primary federal agencies that provide federal funding for the arts, humanities and museum programs, activities, and efforts in the cities and states of America; and

WHEREAS, the NEA's and the NEH's forty years of promoting cultural heritage and vitality throughout the nation has built a cultural infrastructure in this nation of arts and humanities agencies in every state, more than 40,000 nonprofit arts organizations, and 4,000 local arts agencies in cities throughout the country; and

WHEREAS, federal funding leverages up to 7 times more from state and local governments, private foundations, corporations and individuals in communities across the nation to support the highest quality cultural programs in the world; and

WHEREAS, federal funding for cultural activities stimulates local economies and improves the quality of civic life throughout the country ó the NEA, NEH and IMLS support programs that enhance community development, promote cultural planning, stimulate business development, spur urban renewal, attract new businesses, draw significant cultural tourism dollars, and improve the overall quality of life in our cities and towns; and

WHEREAS, federal arts funding to cities, towns and states has helped stimulate the growth of local arts agencies in America's cities and counties and more than $700 million annually in local government funding and more than $300 million in state government funding to the arts and humanities; and

WHEREAS, federal funding for cultural activities is essential to promote full access to and participation in exhibits, performances, arts education and other cultural events regardless of family income; and

WHEREAS, the NEA has undergone a major restructuring of its grants programs to more directly reach and help build communities across the nation through its Challenge America grant program; and

WHEREAS, the federal cultural agencies have received small funding increases in an effort to begin restoring the devastating 40 percent cuts made in 1995, major increases are still needed to address the growing needs of our cultural organizations; and

WHEREAS, the President has proposed level funding for the NEA and NEH, without any adjustments for inflation; and

WHEREAS, the Presidentís budget proposal for NEA includes a reallocation of approximately $6.5 million out of the Challenge America program in favor of a new national initiative, entitled American Masterpieces; and

WHEREAS, the delicate balance in shared responsibility and partnership for public funding of the arts and humanities at the federal, state and local government levels has been in serious jeopardy since local governments cannot make up for the current funding cuts in the federal governmentís share; and

WHEREAS, the United States Conference of Mayors has unanimously passed policy resolutions and issued official letters in the past on Arts Advocacy Day to the President and leaders of the U.S. Senate and House, signed by more than 200 of the nationís mayors, to increase federal funding for the arts and humanities; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors reaffirms its support of the National Endowment for the Arts (and specifically the valuable Challenge America program), National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Office of Museum Services within the Institute of Museum and Library Services and calls upon Congress to increase funding for these agencies in the FYí06 appropriations bills. We urge Congress to allocate new funds for the NEA American Masterpieces national initiative instead of cutting the Challenge America arts grant program to pay for this new project.

©2005 The U.S. Conference of Mayors
Tom Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. 202.293.7330 ~ Fax 202.293.2352