Arts Advocacy Day 2019: Senator Tom Udall
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Arts Advocacy Day 2019: Senator Tom Udall

[Senator Tom Udall:] Thank you so much for
that very generous introduction. Let me say to Debbie, I know she’s really
busy, and before she leaves. I was so honored to serve with John Dingell. When I was sworn in, my father, Stewart Udall
and John Dingell came to the Congress in 1954. So, they were in the same class. When I came and was sworn in in 1999, they
allow former members to come on to the floor. So, you go on to the floor to be sworn in
and on my right, sitting with me, was John Dingell, and on my left, Stewart Udall. It was a proud day for me, and I can tell
you one thing. The thing John Dingell was the proudest of
in his life was that Debbie Dingell was in his congressional seat right now. So, give her a round of applause. Debbie, thank you for joining me on the CREATE
Act, really, really appreciate it. I want to say hello to Nancy Stevens my good friend, and also Shelly, who we were just on a civil rights trip down
in Georgia with John Lewis. Let me just first of all, this is a room always
that has a lot of energy on Arts Day, and so I really greet you and say thank you for
being here, because it’s very, very special that you are here. What is it about the arts? I think it’s the arts bring us together. They connect us as human beings. They show us our similarities, and they celebrate
our differences. Another way of looking at it is, arts…and
my father used to talk a lot about this. He became a good friend with Robert Frost,
the poet. They used to talk about poetry and power going
together, and the arts being a civilizing force. I think the arts tell us to put an end to
endless wars. I think they tell us to confront injustice,
to make a wrong a right, and they tell us to fight for equality for all. Those are just a few of the things that the
arts do for us. Americans for the Arts is a great organization
that does really, really important work. So, I want to thank Bob Lynch, who introduced
me. I’ve watched him over the years. He’s grown enormously, and he’s grown into
this role, and also Naric Rome. To your staff, for your tireless efforts to
bring arts and culture into the lives of every day Americans, which is what you’re doing. Let’s give them, Neric and Bob, a big round
of applause. I don’t mean to get a little partisan here,
but I’m just talking the facts, okay? For two years in a row, the President tried
his best to dismantle the NEA and NEH through his budget requests. Zero is what he put in there. Are we going to fight to support the arts? Yes, we are. Well, the good news is that two years in a
row, Congress not only ignored his requests, we increased the NEA and NEH funding. For fiscal year 2019, each endowment is getting
an additional 2.2 million dollars, and I’m proud to continue, as the Vice Chair of the
Senate Appropriations Sub-committee on Interior, to shepherd appropriations for the NEA and
NEH. I’ve worked very well on a bi-partisan basis
with my Chairman, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, to make sure that our sub-committee’s recommendations
protect and enhance the budgets for the arts. Thank you. The fact is, that supporting the endowments
reflects the will of the people. The President is just out of step with what
the American people want. The public supports the arts. They support the amazing contributions to
their communities that the NEA and NEH make possible through their thousands of grants. They support the incredible breadth and diversity
of the arts projects the endowments support. Your advocacy has been absolutely critical
to making sure that NEA and NEH are able to continue their missions, and continue to receive
strong bi-partisan support in the Congress, where it really counts. I’d just say, really, keep up the good work. While the endowment’s budgets represent a
miniscule part of the Federal Budget, they reach every corner of our country. NEA, for example, funds almost 2,500 grants
annually, targeting high poverty and rural areas. There’s nothing more special in New Mexico
than seeing the symphony go the most rural part of New Mexico to engage citizens. The American people receive a huge bang for
their buck for the NEA. Every one dollar of the NEA funding leverages
nine dollars in private and public dollars. That’s pretty good math, isn’t it? Don’t you think we’re getting a lot by putting
that money in there? Let me thank Acting Chair Mary Ann Carter
and Chair John Peede for your leadership. I was here, John, to hear part of your speech,
and I’m glad you’re there standing up for the endowment. The vibrancy, the creativity, the inclusivity
of the endowments cannot be overstated. Now, Debbie talked about what we’re working
on together, on the CREATE Act. One of my top public policy goals is to expand
the creative economy. Arts represent an important economic driver
in our nation. This may surprise some of you. It’s a 730-billion-dollar industry, representing
4.2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, and directly employs, directly employs,
4.8 million people. That’s pretty great, isn’t it? In my home state of New Mexico, we are very
close to one in ten jobs are part of the creative economy. We have one county with our large Native American
population, Zuni Pueblo, Navajo, that’s more than two in ten, in terms of the creative
economy. So, this is big, but I think we can do a lot
better. Debbie hit it on the head, so I’m not going
to go into length about the CREATE Act. But, I want to say two things. First of all, the CREATE Act would help artists
and entrepreneurs start and grow businesses by directing Federal agencies that work with
small businesses to target artists for loans, grants, incubator programs, and technical
assistance. These are the programs that have proven success. And, the act would create an Artist Corps. Many of you know all about the Peace Corps. Well, how about having an Artist Corps that’s
out in our community, working for the arts. Remember what FDR did when…many of you,
if you go home and you look around, there’s a WPA building from the 30’s and 40’s in your
community. Usually, it has wonderful murals and wonderful
art on it. We need to revitalize that idea and have an
Artist Corps. So, let’s get behind the CREATE Act. When you make your visits, ask everybody to
co-sponsor the CREATE Act. Finally, I just want to say, and Neric and
Bob know this very well, my wife, Jill, who is not able to be here. She’s at an arts board meeting right now. She’s over at the Hirschhorn Museum. She usually comes with me. She’s the real powerhouse in the family when
it comes to arts. She led the New Mexican Department of Cultural
Affairs. She sat on the President’s Commission on Arts
and Humanity. The President’s Commission, under President
Obama, which it existed for a long, long time. It no longer exists. The positions have not been filled. so, while that’s happening, why don’t we just
create what other countries have done in the world, a Minister for Arts and Culture, that’s
in the Cabinet? How about that? Thank you for your work. Great to be here with you today. Knock on those doors, speak with passion,
and you’re going to get it done. Thank you. Thank you.

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