Americans for the Arts Artist Committee Member Ben Folds and President and CEO Robert L. Lynch Deliver Testimony to U.S. House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Urging NEA Funding Increase to $170 Million

Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch and acclaimed singer-songwriter Ben Folds today urged the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies to support federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) at $170 million for fiscal year (FY) 2021, a $7.75 million increase over FY 2020 funding. With last year’s increase the largest in six years, Congress has almost restored the NEA to its funding-level highpoint of $176 million in FY 1992.

In submitted testimony, Lynch expressed deep appreciation to Congress and the bipartisan work of the Subcommittee, and focused his testimony on the vital impact of the NEA—particularly for rural communities—and the remarkably far-reaching nature of the NEA, touching communities that have fewer opportunities to experience the arts. With the majority of direct grants going to small- and medium-sized organizations, the NEA often support projects for audiences that otherwise might not have access to arts programming. Lynch stressed that we must continue to strongly support federal funding of the arts, as it fosters investment, spurs job-related growth, expands educational opportunities, is essential to rural communities, and provides for the preservation of our heritage. Read Lynch’s full testimony here.

Folds, who is Chairman of ArtsVote 2020 and a board member of the Americans for the Arts Action Fund, also called for the $7.75 million increase and brought to the subcommittee’s attention the notion of engaging and expanding new audiences, something very close to the work he does with symphony orchestras across the country. He cited findings from the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, a recently released study by the NEA in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau. Findings made clear the vital role that the arts play in our lives and our communities. Read Folds’ full testimony here.

The powerful message will again be delivered March 30-31, when Lynch will lead Americans for the Arts and more than 85 national partners at the National Arts Action Summit, which includes Arts Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. More than 500 arts advocates will convene in Washington, DC, to receive crucial advocacy training from experts in the field on March 30, and then put that training into practice at meetings with their elected representatives on March 31, making the same ask for $170 million for the NEA in FY 2021.

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of 60 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at


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