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From Lincoln Center to President Trump: Don’t Kill the NEA When the Arts Are a $700-Billion Business

The home of the New York Film Festival and The Film Society makes the case against ending federal arts funding.

Lincoln Center

Josie Robertson Plaza in front of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, New York

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Lincoln Center, the world’s largest performing arts center, released a public statement about President Trump’s threats against the National Endowment of the Arts. The argument: The arts are good business, with arts and culture powering the U.S. economy by $704.2 billion every year.

Lincoln Center is home to the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic — and of course the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which hosts the New York Film Festival. In an open letter posted to their website, the New York arts institution argued for both the human and economic benefits of continued federal support of the arts.

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“Beyond our shores, American arts institutions are the envy of the world,” reads the statement. “In a unique public-private model, private sources provide the vast majority of funding for our artists and arts organizations. Government helps in targeted ways at pivotal moments, for example, by providing early funding to get projects off the ground or helping to create or expand promising initiatives to achieve greater reach and impact. Underlying all of this is the National Endowment for the Arts.”

Mia Hansen-Love and Isabelle Huppert at NYFF.

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“For more than 50 years, the NEA has provided leadership in the public arts arena,” reads the statement. “The total cost of the NEA is less than one dollar a year for every American. But because it is so successful and its imprimatur so prestigious, every dollar the NEA contributes leads to nine additional dollars being donated from other sources.”

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Lincoln Center, which brings in six million people annually to its events, also made the strong case for how the arts serve a public good, while highlighting organization’s work in arts education.

“A child’s early introduction to ballet teaches strength and discipline,” the statement said. “A veteran’s exposure to art therapy brings healing and hope. A student’s participation in music class improves math scores and critical thinking skills. Art shapes achievement, with profound and practical effects.”

You can read the full statement here.

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