Earlier this month, the White House released a fiscal year 2018 budget blueprint, which outlines spending priorities that may have a significant impact on arts and arts education programs across the country if they are ultimately approved. It is important to note that the release from the Executive Branch is non-binding, and it is Congress that drafts and votes on appropriations bills. While many of the details on education funding are not yet addressed, as the release is not a full budget proposal, the blueprint includes several items that should cause concern for arts and arts education advocates, including:
- A 9 billion dollar decrease in funding for the U.S. Department of Education, with an unknown impact on arts education programs, depending on how the proposed cuts would be realized;
- Elimination of funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, cutting 1.2 billion dollars for after school programs, many of which include an arts component;
- Elimination of the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), impacting the budgets of many local arts programs that currently receive support from one or both of these federal programs.
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia has not been silent on these issues, and encourages all members who feel strongly about them to express their viewpoints in a reasoned and fraternal manner. In January, Sinfonia co-signed a letter from the Music Education Policy Roundtable to then President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team advocating for a number of issues related to arts education access and funding. Our partner organization, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), released a public statement in support of the NEA and NEH earlier in March, and we support that statement as well.
Members may remember Sinfonia’s call to Brothers in July 2016 to support a petition regarding funding for the nation’s military music ensembles. Following that call, signees to the petition nearly doubled, and the proposal was ultimately dropped, at least for the time being. When we #SingasOne, we have influence, Brothers, and I encourage you to support our Object and live your Oath by continuing to speak and advocate for music and the arts in America, representing Sinfonia as Men of the Highest Type.
For information on how to contact your legislators, click here.
In Phi, Mu, Alpha,
Mark R. Lichtenberg