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I can also speak about the young black men I have seen blossom who have sat in classes all semester until they wrote this play.

The NEA has been critical to the work that we do at Arena. This year we have an $80,000 NEA grant that funds specific partnerships with community organizations to reach both young people and adults through creative dramatic techniques. In addition, we receive grants from the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities for our teaching/training program.

Government grants not only subsidize the 25,000 tickets we provide for students every year, but they also help us to prepare to grow and change as an institution in the Twenty-First Century.

I'd like to talk specifically about how we achieve all of those objectives through our programs and the NEA's important role in supporting the work we do.

Living Stage, a community outreach theater which has been part of Arena for over 30 years, uses creative dramatics with physically disabled children, teen mothers, and other populations over a number of years to build self-esteem and provide a positive attitude towards problem solving in their lives. In addition, they train day care providers and Head Start teachers in their techniques.

In my department, we have built the largest student matinee series in the city. Each year we provide over 25,000 discount tickets to students of all ages. In addition, we have a teacher training program that prepares 16 teachers to instruct their students about the historical context, the playwright, and the universal themes of the play before and after they attend the performance. Through these teachers, we give 1,600 free tickets to the D.C. Public Schools.

Our last program, and my favorite because I'm a playwright, is the Arena 2K Playwrights: Voices for the New Millennium. We send three playwrighting teachers into the four D.C. Public Schools for an entire year. Within their English classes, we teach 200 students the basics of playwrighting.

Each student writes a play. And we do in-school readings with professional actors and in the year with a festival of the very best work. These students come from a world shaped by poverty and violence, and they learn how to build a world and shape a world within their plays. They begin to understand how their characters make choices and indeed how they, too, can make choices within their own lives. We teach kids the very same thing that I learned when I sat down in that seat at Arena, that the possibilities are limitless.

I invite everyone in this room to see arts education at work and the creativity of young people on May 19th at 7:30, when Arena Stage will host the Arena 2K Festival, which is the work of our playwrights, our student playwrights that we teach all year. It is a free performance with professional actors, and it is at 7:30 in the Krygjer Theater at Arena.

Thank you.

(The statement of Ms. Evans follows:]


Mr. Riggs. Thank you for your testimony and for the nice invitation.

Ms. Evans. You're welcome. Please come.

Mr. Riges. Dr. Tyler Cowen is professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Northern Virginia, just across the river.

Dr. Cowen, thank you for being here. You are recognized. You may proceed with your testimony.


Mr. Cowen. I am an NEA skeptic, albeit a reluctant one. I find myself aesthetically and emotionally much closer to the people who support the NEA. And, to be perfectly honest, when I hear people like Mr. Trueman speak, it frightens me. But, nonetheless, I am an NEA skeptic. And let me try to explain why.

I think the analogy with religion is a very useful one. Religion is very prosperous and healthy and influential in American life. Yet, it proceeds without direct governmental assistance. Primarily we support religion through the tax system and through deductions for contributions. The same kind of support through the tax system has worked very

well for the arts.

We could, as we have done for the arts today, parade a variety of people through here telling us about the great spiritual benefits of religion, the economic benefits for communities, and they would have a point. But, nonetheless, we don't think it's a good idea that the government gets involved with direct financial support as religion.

For me, art in a sense is my religion. And I would favor a kind of separation between the government and art, just as we now have a separation between government and religion.

If we look at the history of the United States, we see that the United States is now today the world's most creative nation, both in popular culture and in high culture. We also see that the United States is the nation whose government by far is the least involved in the arts. So if artistic innovation and diversity are something that are truly dear to us, I think this is a fact that we should take very seriously.

I'm perfectly willing to come in here and tell you quite honestly that I believe that Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano are pretty good artists. If I hear the government funds these artists, it does not upset my moral sense. I don't feel any particular kind of outrage.

I consider myself what you might call a cultural progressive. And I'm directing these remarks to other people who agree with me that there is more to art than just Bach or Shakespeare, however great they may be.

However, ultimately when the government gets involved, what I think happens is a drying up of diversity and a drying up of innovation, that the failures of NEA - they are cited many, many times. I wish I had a nickel for every time they were cited today or every time that someone apologized for them. But an important point is those supposed failures are also a sign that at one point in time, there were tendencies to do something innovative in the government funding of arts.

I think that good government is inherently something rather conservative. I don't mean that in the partisan sense. I mean that in the literal sense of changing slowly and being very cautious. But good art is inherently

something innovative and revolutionary.

We have now come to the point where we have the head of the NEA, Jane Alexander, coming before the government and essentially apologizing for the kinds of art that have been funded in the past. This makes me very


In my ideal world, politicians would be the ones doing the apologizing to Jane Alexander and not the other way around. I think the best way to get to that kind of world, where we have diverse and free art, is indeed to have a separation between the government and art.

In closing, let me just offer a few brief remarks on some economic issues. There are a variety of studies which claim that arts funding through the NEA creates economic benefits for local communities. Sometimes we even hear figures like 20 to 1 as a benefit ratio. These studies do not stand up to close professional scrutiny at the hands of top-level economists. I think we really don't know what the benefits and costs are.

I think on the other side, it's illegitimate to claim the NEA causes our deficit problem. The sums involved are very small. As a first order of approximation, I'm quite happy to say the financial costs are zero and the financial benefits are zero. Certainly scientific research has not yet told us anything to the contrary.

Another set of supposed facts we often hear recited is a supposed connection between NEA spending and higher SAT scores. These kinds of studies are based largely on misleading interpretations of statistics or confusions between correlation and causality. I don't rule out that there may be a real effect that may be positive, but right now the evidence simply isn't there. And if you look very hard for very seriously peer-reviewed studies in top journals that show that evidence to hold up under the highest scrutiny, again, it simply isn't there.

Another point we often hear made is that throughout history there has been government funding of great art works. Michelangelo has been cited. The Greeks have been cited. The Romans have been cited, many, many other examples. You can think of your own.

And this is certainly the case. But what we find in so many of these instances is that the great funding came at the hand of an aristocracy or a tyranny. The record of democracy isn't nearly as good. The democratic societies that do best in generating creative arts tend to rely largely on the market.

The reason that aristocratic arts funding has had notable successes in the past quite simply is that the art buyers were not accountable to the public. They were not put on CNN. They were not asked to parade before a congressional committee and essentially apologize for what they have done or deny that they have ever funded pornography. And that's why arts funding has often through the government worked well in the past.

I am not suggesting that we go back to those days. I think these various kinds of aristocracy and tyranny were bad systems. The point is we are now in a democracy. Arts funding is accountable to the public. And, therefore, I think, in closing, our best hope for a diverse and healthy artistic America is the market economy and not the NEA.



[The statement of Mr. Cowen follows:)


Mr. Riggs. Thank you, Dr. Cowen.

I recognize Mr. Castle, the Vice Chairman of the Early Childhood, Youth and Family Subcommittee, to introduce our final witness.

Mr. Castle. Well, it's been a long day. So, Peggy, this will be very short.

Peggy Amsterdam is the Director of the Delaware Division of the Arts. I think I have already made it clear that we have a unified arts community in Delaware because we are a small start, so that we can do that. She's here on behalf of the National Assembly of the State Arts Agencies and I think does an outstanding job for the arts community in Delaware.

We appreciate that and appreciate you being here today.

Ms. Amsterdam. Thank you, Congressman Castle. It's a pleasure to be here.


Ms. Amsterdam. On behalf of the National Assembly of the State Arts Agencies, I'm pleased to have the opportunity to testify today on the work of the National Endowment for the Arts in making the arts available to Americans all over the country.

My name is Peggy Amsterdam. I'm the Director of the Delaware Division of the Arts. And I'm here today representing the collective voice of my colleagues in state arts agencies across the country.

You have my written comments for the record, and I'd like to summarize my comments.

We advocate for federal funding, federal arts funding, to serve the public: first, by enabling people in communities nationwide an equal opportunity to participate in the arts; second, by increasing the ability of all Americans through the arts to excel in education; and, third, by contributing to a healthy economy in communities in every state.

The state arts agencies want a strong and effective partner at the federal level because federal funding offers people from all economic backgrounds and all regions of the country access to a broad range of cultural activities.

I'm pleased to say that while the federal funding for the arts has been cut back, state legislatures and the governors have supported the arts. And, actually, following an upward trend begun five years ago, investment in the arts by states in 1997 rose by five percent over the past year, outpacing gencral fund growth in the states by four percent.

Let me give you an example of how federal and state dollars work together to bring the arts to more Americans: first, in widening public access to the arts. We have heard a lot about this today.

The National Endowment for the Arts funding is an essential part of the work of the state arts agencies so that we can fund the arts in diverse ways that strengthen our arts organizations and extend the reach of the arts. There are state agencies in all of the states and territories with directors like myself, whose job it is to see that these dollars get out into small communities and actually into every county, parish, and United States congressional


We know that public arts spending is especially important in the rural areas, and we have shown that in Delaware. We're a very rural state. We only have three towns with a population above 6,000. And in those towns, we're an essential funding source using state and federal dollars for arts activities.

Last year we funded programs in places like Greenwood, Delaware, which has a population of less than 600; and in Bridgeville, Delaware, with a population of about 1,200. These federal dollars appropriated by Congress went through the Delaware Arts Agency.

I'd like to respond to a comment that was made before that the arts will always exist and people will always do the arts in these small communities. But what the federal and state dollars allow us to do is to get the people who are doing small community theaters for themselves, for just their communities, to be able to bring in more of their neighbors, more of the people in the communities, and present really wonderful programs that bring the community together in a dialogue and allow people in their own community to decide whether they want to have artists paint a mural, whether they want to do community theater or concerts or make films. It's very, very important in small communities. And it promotes definitely an understanding of different cultures, which is very important.

I'd also like to respond to the comments that have been made several times about one-third of the grants going to six cities in the country because obviously one of those six cities is not in Delaware.

But it's not so much the cities that this money goes to. It's how it serves the people. And I just want to say that the people in Delaware have been served very well by a grant that went to New York to meet the composer, which is now working with the Newark Symphony in a town of 2,500, along with Opera Delaware and women who have been victims of domestic violence. So they're all working together on a project.

I'd also like to thank the NEA for a grant that went to a dance company in Los Angeles, the Bela Luitsky Company, that enabled that company to spend two weeks in Delaware working in small communities with schools and with dancers.

I want to say thank you for the grant that comes to Washington, D.C. to Opera America, that brings a program called “Music Words, Opera" to schools all over the State of Delaware. And those discussions about operas, like Madame Butterfly, have created many, many dialogues about things like race relations.

And I'd like to say thank you for a grant that goes to the Wolf Trap Foundation for their Early Childhood Program, which is soon to be replicated in Delaware. So those grants that go to those cities are having an impact in other communities.

All states arts agencies with the assistance from the NEA support arts education programs. And we do that in several ways: through artist residencies that provide direct access to arts, through curriculum development and teacher training.

We know and education research has proven, as you have heard, that instruction in the arts improves student achievement, keeps kids in school longer, and produces the kind of students that make for creative problemsolvers and the kind of job applicants that employers like to see.

We are working very closely with our State Department of Public Instruction to have an education reform program in the State of Delaware. We are currently introducing new standards for math, science, English, social studies, and the arts. And the arts standards are expected to be passed this summer. And then implementation and assessment of those programs will be in.

The Delaware Art Museum, as one example of educational programs, has provided a social studies curriculum where they use the resources of the art museum in the town all the way on the other end of the state so that they're teaching geography, economics, and civics through the arts; and, last, that the arts build a healthy


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