Kate Shindle, President of Actors' Equity, the national labor union representing professional actors and stage managers, released the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would fully fund the National Endowment for the Arts for the remainder of the federal government’s fiscal year. The Senate vote comes one day after the U.S. House also voted to fund the NEA and comes weeks after President Trump proposed in his budget to eliminate the NEA entirely.
“Thousands of our talented members spoke up and told Congress in no uncertain terms that the NEA is about jobs. Together, we’ve won the first battle but the fight is far from over. While the NEA will remain funded for now, Congress is already looking toward the 2018 budget. When members of Congress take up next year’s budget in the days ahead, we will be ready to remind them that the NEA supports middle-class arts jobs in small and regional theaters all across the country.”
U.S. News and World Report reported this week that Congress added an additional $2 million in funding for the NEA this year.
Equity has historically fought for increased funding and recognition of the NEA. Over the last few months, Equity launched a full court press to preserve the NEA after media reports emerged that President Trump might slash funding for the program. Actors' Equity President Kate Shindle passionately demanded that Congress fund the NEA in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the very same day President Trump announced his proposed budget. The following week, Equity Councillors and rank and file members lobbied on the hill during National Arts Advocacy Day. Equity members across the country gathered to support the NEA, from rallies in New York to community discussions in Minneapolis. Equity gathered thousands of petitions from members and supporters of the arts asking Congress to fund the NEA. Equity also joined with a coalition that included 11 other national unions representing 4 million workers demanding that Congress fund the NEA.