Paint This Desert welcomes the Honorable Dina Titus, US representative of the First Congressional District of Nevada. Congresswomen Titus has built a strong record of achievement as an educator, a public servant, and an important arts advocate for Southern Nevada.
By Congresswomen Dina Titus,
I recently visited the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin and was reminded that President Johnson created the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. One exhibit was entitled, “How President Johnson saved the American Ballet Co.” How wise he was to realize that supporting access to cultural activities for all citizens was an important aspect of quality of life and should be included in the Great Society along with equal access to accommodations, employment, the ballot box, and housing.
Now after some fifty years of amazing success, the Endowments are under attack by a president who has little knowledge of or respect for history and whose idea of art is reality television.
In his recent budget request, Trump proposed an 80 percent cut to the National Endowment for the Arts budget, reducing NEA funding to a mere $29 million for FY19 compared to the $150 million it received this year.
The proposal would have a dire impact in art hubs throughout the country as well as in every community with a small museum, a Chautauqua program, or a visiting artist series.
Here in Nevada, the NEA has paved the way for our community to preserve the State’s homegrown art and heritage, feature local works, and nurture the next generation of artists by contributing annually to the Nevada Arts Council. 1
These funds have gone to the UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art and the Nevada Museum of Art. They have supported the Winchester Cultural Center’s effort to create the ZAP! public art program to decorate utility boxes around the valley and have contributed to the Maryland Parkway Public Art Urban Design Plan to beautify a main thoroughfare in my district, just to mention a few.
For so many reasons we must fight Trump’s effort to dismantle the NEA and NEH which will stifle artists and leave access to the arts to the wealthy.
Please count me as an advocate and an ally in this battle. From my time in the State Senate to my years in Congress, I have always fought for more funding so our state’s artists can create, our curators can exhibit, and our community can draw hope – even in the darkest of times. When I was in the State Senate, I was the founder of the Arts Caucus and sponsor of the Penny for Public Art legislation. I was also the proud recipient of the Nevada Arts and Humanities Award for Public Service. In Washington, every year I select the works of local students to hang in the halls of the Capitol as part of the Congressional Art Competition and serve as a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus, promoting policies that enhance, protect, and foster the arts. I am currently the sponsor of a bill to recognize magic as an art form.
And, most delightfully, when I am home you can often see me attending performances at the renowned Smith Center, various museums, at the movies, or in the Arts District.
In government funding battles, it is easy for short-sighted legislators and politicians to think about the value of line items more than the priceless effect of an actor’s lines, the contours of a painting, or linear movements of a ballet. This is a mistake.
The arts reflect the different views we all have. They tell our many diverse stories. They bring us together and help us understand our differences. We must make Trump understand: Without art, Earth is just “eh.”
PTD Note: Nevada Arts Council received $696,400 from the National Endowment for the Arts for recent cycle of June 17 - August 18.
ABOVE: Luis Varela Rico