Theatre Forward Supports All of Our Partner Organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts


Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.

Update: President Trump’s newly released 2018 budget plan calls for the eventual elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Assistance for Arts Education program, among others. Despite receiving $150 million dollars in funding for the rest of 2017, the new budget proposal grants the NEA $29 million dollars in 2018 to conduct a final closeout.

Although we were initially hopeful that there was continued bi-partisan support for these programs and agencies, the new proposal would eliminate the NEA by the end of 2018. The complete plan states, “the Administration does not consider NEA activities to be core Federal responsibilities.” Its justification continues: “In 2014, NEA funding represented just four percent of total public and private support for the arts in the United States.” It is more important than ever to contact your representatives and voice your concerns.

Theatre Forward joins our colleagues across all sectors of the arts, from small dance companies, to museums, and especially our prominent member theatres, in underlining the impact of the NEA in particular upon our work:

Many of our member theatres have pointed out the important plays the NEA has supported directly, including prize-winning shows now considered hallmarks of our times, such as Angels in America and many more.

They also point out the crucial support they depend upon from state arts agencies that receive NEA block grants.

And they cite the 1 to 9 multiplier of NEA funding, which serves as a catalyst for other funders to support the organizations and projects that receive grants, and which has a significant impact on the cities our theatres serve.

Finally, these funds have often gone to special programs that make their plays and musicals more accessible to underserved and under-represented audiences who would not otherwise be able to attend.

Theatre Forward has been the direct beneficiary of NEA support for professional development program for theatre education leaders. This project brought needed resources and expertise to foster innovation and program improvement at our theatres.

Our audiences and our students are better served thanks to these projects.

As a vehicle for collaborative problem solving, organizations like us depend upon community, collaboration and creativity among many stakeholders, and we look to the NEA to inform and support these projects.  The strategies and services fostered by the NEA, such as collective impact problem-solving, and the research that provides essential data about audiences and demographic trends, are not available from any other source.  In 2009, the NEA served as a vehicle for economic stimulus spending that provided fuel to the most recent recovery.  To close down this important agency is to weaken the responsiveness of our cultural sector, our economy, and our government.  And it is to deprive us, the citizens of the United States, of the great art our country deserves and currently enjoys.

Frankly we should be increasing the NEA in its size and capacity.  We have never needed the NEA more than now, when polarization, inequality and a coarsening of political discourse have made community-building so greatly needed, and so challenging. Therefore, we urge all who believe in the arts as a vital part of our society to join us in urging Congress to not only continue the National Endowment for the Arts, but to increase its effectiveness by increasing its budget to $155 million.

Click here to be redirected to the Americans for the Arts #SaveTheNEA action page where you will be asked to enter your zip code to identify your elected representatives and then will have to option to either send either a pre-written message in support of funding or your own message directly through the site.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Our member theatres are doing incredible work to support the NEA all across the country. Check out some examples below:

Alliance Theatre

American Repertory Theater

Center Theatre Group

Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Long Wharf Theatre

Trinity Repertory Company