Views on the Arts
In advance of November's Congressional election, CNY Arts asked Mr. John Katko and Representative Dan Maffei to give their views on federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, on support for arts education, and on the role that arts, culture, history, and heritage play in New York's 24th Congressional District. Their response are below.
Representative Dan Maffei
I am honored to have this opportunity to discuss my support for the arts, and my firm belief that the arts and humanities play an important role in our local economy and community in Central New York. Art and cultural organizations create jobs, attract young people to the area, and establish a real sense of community for the region. It has been my pleasure to advocate for federal funding of the arts in Congress, and to introduce a bill that will protect a truly unique cultural landmark in Central New York.
During my time in Congress I have consistently supported funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). These organizations are the largest annual sources of funding for arts and humanities in the nation, and since 1965 they have provided crucial support for so many cultural organizations. I also strongly opposed the radical House Republican Ryan budget, a reckless budget plan that would have eliminated funding completely for the NEA, the NEH, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This kind of partisan agenda would have hurt the economy and art organizations.
One important way to support the arts in Central New York is to help local organizations secure federal funding. That is why in May of 2014, I was proud to host an Arts and Humanities Grants Workshop at the Central New York Playhouse. This was an excellent opportunity to bring together local art and cultural institutions with representatives from the NEA and NEH to discuss ways to secure federal grants. The event was a great success with nearly 80 attendees.
As you all know, Central New York has an incredibly rich cultural heritage and history, one that I am committed to protecting for generations to come. One of these important landmarks is Harriet Tubman's home in Auburn, where the famed abolitionist retired after leading so many slaves to freedom. That is why I introduced a bill to make Tubman's home in Auburn, the Home for the Aged she started, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and the Fort Hill Cemetery where she is buried, a National Historical Park. I was thrilled to see the bill pass the Senate this past July and I will keep fighting in the House to get the bill passed and establish the first national park in honor of an African-American woman. Harriet Tubman's legacy, and the story of her extraordinary life, needs to be preserved and protected.
President John F. Kennedy once noted, "I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens." This vision of our country recognizes that the arts and humanities add so much to our lives, and must be encouraged. As your representative in Congress, I will continue to work to protect funding for the arts, strengthen arts education, and preserve our cultural history.
As I travel across the 24th Congressional District meeting with neighbors, businesses and civic leaders, I am reminded every day of just why my family is proud to call Central New York home. From our rich history, to our reviving urban centers, to our strong ancestries in agriculture, we are incredibly blessed. One thing that truly contributes to this pride is our cultural heritage and local commitment to the arts.
In Syracuse, I have been fortunate enough to meet with the folks at CNY Arts and Syracuse Stage. Just a few miles down the road in Auburn, I have met with community leaders at the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse and Schine Theatre. These wonderful organizations represent only a small portion of the vibrant cultural and artistic developments across Central New York. The commitment, enthusiasm and potential in our community for preserving our local history and developing programs to nurture the arts is sincere.
Local artistic projects and cultural destinations promote tourism and attract international attention to Central New York and help strengthen our local economy. We see it in the new restaurants, businesses, and hotels throughout the district. They promote hometown talent and liven an industry we should be cultivating.
What's more, the abundance of cultural and artistic resources available in Central New York is vitally important to educating our children. We should do all that we can to maintain and improve upon arts, music, and literacy programming to enrich education and open doors for our children to expose their talents.
As your representative in Washington, I will work diligently with our local arts, music and cultural organizations to ensure Central New Yorkers have a voice and committed partner in developing their projects and strengthening the educational opportunities for our children. Our hometown arts community deserves an advocate who fights just as hard for these projects as the people putting them together.
CNY Arts thanks both individuals for their time and consideration. Representative Richard Hanna is running unopposed in New York's 22nd District, and we will offer him the same opportunity in our October newsletter.
**CNY Arts does not endorse candidates for public office.