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Museums Urged to Sign Fieldwide Letter to Congress; AAM and national advocacy partners lead effort to mobilize museums in support of key federal agencies

Category: Advocacy Alert
Photo of the U.S. Capitol building DC, Photo by E.Neely

“[We] urge you to support Fiscal Year 2018 federal funding for programs and agencies that help America’s museums serve their communities… Many of these small but vital initiatives—including the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)—are targeted for elimination in the president’s [FY2018] budget proposal.”

–excerpt from the fieldwide sign-on letter to Congress 

As part of our ongoing effort to protect funding for key federal agencies that support museums, we are asking museums and related organizations to sign on to a fieldwide letter to Congress.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, and we need your urgent help.

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The letter—full text below—urges congressional leaders to reject efforts to eliminate funding for federal agencies such as IMLS, NEA, and NEH, and instead urges Congress to support funding for programs and agencies that help America’s museums serve their communities.

The American Alliance of Museums is pleased to have the support of several key national partners in this effort, including American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), American Public Gardens Association (APGA), Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and the National Coalition for History.

SIGN YOUR ORGANIZATION ON TO THIS LETTER by Friday, July 21

Note: This letter is for museums and related organizations only. We continue to encourage individuals to advocate for museums using AAM’s tools and templates, and to support the cause of museums with a tax-deductible donation that will directly support our continued advocacy work.

Read the complete letter here:

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and Minority Leader Pelosi,

We, the undersigned [XXX] museum organizations urge you to support Fiscal Year 2018 federal funding for programs and agencies that help America’s museums serve their communities in myriad ways. Many of these small but vital initiatives—including the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)—are targeted for elimination in the president’s budget proposal. We are grateful for the bipartisan congressional support that they have received in recent years, including a number of small funding increases enacted in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017.

Federal funding helps museums care for treasured collections, preserve history, educate students, train classroom teachers, reach new audiences, and tailor programming to meet the particular needs of their communities. These programs do not drive deficits; the largest source of dedicated federal funding for museums—the Office of Museum Services at IMLS—costs less than 10 cents per American. As a result of this limited capacity and the great demand for their services, programs that support museums are extremely competitive and only the strongest proposals receive funding. For instance, NEH was only able to fund 16 percent of the applications it received in Fiscal Year 2016. These programs also attract private, local, and state funding to amplify US taxpayers’ investment, as evidenced by each NEA grant dollar leveraging an average of more than nine non-federal dollars.

America’s museums are economic engines in communities large and small—whether they are museums of art, history, science, military and maritime museums, children’s museums, aquariums, zoos, botanical gardens, arboretums, historic sites, presidential libraries, or science and technology centers. In addition to their own considerable economic impact, they attract tourism spending; cultural and heritage travelers stay longer and spend 60 percent more than other travelers. They are part of a robust arts and culture industry that annually generates $27 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenues, far more than it receives from government sources.

Museums are critical educational infrastructure, spending $2 billion annually on education. In addition to its considerable intrinsic benefits, research shows that museum education also produces a measurable impact on students. According to a recent study by researchers at the University of Arkansas, students who attended a half-day field trip to an art museum later demonstrated an increase in critical thinking skills, historical empathy and tolerance. For students from rural or high-poverty regions, the increase was even more significant.

While we acknowledge the many pressing priorities in the budget, the tremendous economic and educational contributions of museums make them eminently worthy of federal funding. As you make decisions about the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, we urge you to support agencies and programs that help museums make a difference in their communities.

Sincerely,
[list of museums and related organizations]

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