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Art enthusiasts say Trump budget would be 'crushing blow' to state's creative economy

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 29. 2017 9:53PM
Roger Brooks, chairman of the State Council on the Arts, speaks during a news conference Wednesday to draw attention to the economic impact of the arts. (DAN TUOHY/Union Leader)

CONCORD — The President’s budget, which proposes defunding the National Endowment for the Arts, would deliver a crushing blow to a thriving creative economy, according to the State Arts Council.

An estimated 3,505 arts-related businesses and nonprofits in the state employ 10,346 people, said Roger Brooks, chairman of the State Council on the Arts, during a news conference Wednesday to draw attention to the economic impact of the arts.

“The arts are vital to a vibrant nation,” he said. “The arts enrich our souls, expand our horizons and aspirations, and identify the best within us.”

Brooks cited a 2012 study of 161 arts and cultural organizations in the state, which is less than a fifth statewide, which showed a $115 million annual impact. An estimated $62 million of that was in spending by guests and visitors, he said.

Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, and Rep. David Danielson, R-Bedford, who were recognized as the state council’s 2017 Art Advocates of the Year, emphasized the big ripple effect from the arts, entertainment and cultural sectors. “When you go out (after a show) and have a beer, you’re contributing,” Danielson said.

Two dozen business people, nonprofit leaders, artists and entertainers joined Brooks at the news conference as a show of solidarity.

John Constant, owner of Constantly Pizza in Concord, spoke of the business brought in by the Capitol Center for the Arts, along with the center’s benefit for schools and the community.

Charlie Jordan, president of the Great North Woods Committee on the Arts in Colebrook, said arts organizations are interwoven in the local economy.

Melissa Richmond, of the West Claremont Center for Music and Arts, said NEA funding makes up nearly 20 percent of her organization’s budget.

“Any cuts to that would be pretty devastating for us,” she said.

The National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, two independent agencies, receive about $150 million annually. In the current fiscal year, the State Council on the Arts receives about $719,000 from the NEA, along with about $310,000 in direct state appropriation, according to the council.

Brooks cited a national report that New Hampshire is home to about 35,000 independent visual arts, writers, musicians, dancers, and filmmakers, which reported a combined income of nearly $18 million in 2013.

The State Council on the Arts, established in 1965, is advised by a 15-member board with councilors appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Executive Council.

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