Kevin Spacey has been bringing attention to the fact that by funding the arts, the country is doing much more than just funding the arts.
On April 5, Spacey was supposed to testify in the House during a hearing that was canceled at the last minute for budget negotiations to avoid a government shutdown.
But it appeared the show must go on, and Spacey spoke to a crowd of lawmakers in the hallway instead.
Apparently, if it wasn’t for arts funding, the academy-award winning actor would have led a much different life. Speaking of the theatre director that changed is life forever, Spacey said “he saw something in me – a potential – that even I hadn’t recognized. That moment shaped me, and it shaped my life.”
Spacey added that he’s worried fewer kids will have opportunities in the arts. Funding cuts in the 1990s and similar notions now threaten the grants provided by the arts endowment for local theaters and arts groups, he said.
House Republicans have passed a $40 million cut this year to the relatively small $168 million annual budget of the arts endowment, though the cut is subject to Senate negotiations. Others want to cut off funding entirely in 2012.
Obama’s proposed budget for 2012 calls for a $22 million reduction due to pressure to cut spending.
Robert Lynch, president of the lobbying group Americans for the Arts, said many new lawmakers in a rush to cut budgets fail to see the jobs and economic boost that arts organizations provide as small businesses. The $166 billion nonprofit arts sector includes 5.7 million jobs and generates nearly $30 billion in tax revenue, he said.
New York Times article: Kevin Spacey, in Role as Lobbyist for the Arts
Associated Press article: Kevin Spacey calls for arts funding in Congress