Ryan budget bad for museums, bad for the economy

25 Apr 2014 10:25 AM | Anonymous
Below is the text of a letter that Maine Archives and Museums sent to Senators Collins (R-ME) and King (I-ME) and Representatives Michaud (D-ME) and Pingree (D-ME) on April 25, 2014, encouraging them to reject the budget proposed by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), which would defund and effectively eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services as well as defund the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Public Broadcasting Service.

MAM has also added its signature to a statement prepared by the American Alliance of Museums on behalf of state and regional museum associations, directed at Representatives Ryan and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who are heading up the budget committee.  When that letter is made public, we will share it with our membership.

April 25, 2014

The Association of Maine Archives and Museums, the state’s only membership organization dedicated to supporting and promoting Maine’s collecting institutions, rejects the new budget from Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), in which he disregards the critical role that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) plays in supporting civic engagement, literacy and lifelong learning in more than 17,500 museums and 123,000 libraries nationwide. This budget plan seeks to eliminate federal funding for multiple programs dedicated to the public good that directly benefit Maine libraries, museums, and their patrons. Ryan’s budget resolution effectively calls for the dissolution of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a federal agency that administers grants to libraries and museums.

Rep. Ryan recommends that the federal government not have a role in these vital and essential educational resources and that Congress shift the federal agency’s responsibilities to the private sector in his 2015 fiscal year budget resolution. The proposed House Budget says, "The Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services is an independent agency that makes grants to museums and libraries. This is not a core federal responsibility." In addition, Ryan would like to make similar cuts in federal funding to agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Public Broadcasting Service, and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), a move that would result in the loss of cultural heritage on an epic scale.

It is the view of Maine Archives and Museums that having an informed and literate citizenry and protecting cultural heritage are priorities for the administration. Providing funding for institutions such as IMLS, NEH, and NEA that contribute to this work is indeed a core federal responsibility and should continue unimpeded.

Maine has received nearly $6 million over the last four years from IMLS, which funded vital programs such as: the Maine Regional Library System, special services (books-by-mail, video services, talking books and large print books), school library/ media services, Maine InfoNet, and electronic database licensing. In the last year, more than $775,000 grants were awarded to Maine museums.
The NEH supports museums as institutions of learning and exploration, and as keepers of our cultural, historical, and scientific heritages. These programs teach essential skillsundefinedsuch as creativity, critical thinking, and effective communicationundefinedthat are increasingly being sought by employers. NEH also funds humanities councils in every state and U.S. territory, which sponsor family literacy programs, speakers' bureaus, cultural heritage tourism, exhibitions, and live performances.

The nonprofit arts industry generates $135.2 billion annually in economic activity, supports 4.1 million full-time equivalent jobs in the arts and related industries, and returns $9.6 billion in federal income taxes. We encourage you to find out more about the economic impact of such organizations in Maine by looking at MAM’s statewide Economic Impact Statement at www.mainemuseums.org/About. In partnership with the NEA, state arts agencies annually award 22,000 grants to organizations, schools, and artists in 5,000 communities across the United States. On average, each NEA grant leverages at least nine dollars from other state, local, and private sources. Private support cannot match the leveraging role of government cultural funding.

Library and cultural heritage funding support from the Institute for Museum and Library Services wields large returns in the form of literate and civically engaged communities. We hope that our members of Congress will support the important roles that the IMLS, NEA, and NEH play in supporting educated communities by rejecting the House Budget resolution.

About Maine Archives & Museums:
Maine Archives and Museums actively stimulates the flow of knowledge and support among organizations and individuals in Maine who identify, collect, interpret, and/or provide access to materials relating to history, living collections, and culture, in order to strengthen and promote all collecting institutions in Maine. For more information, visit www.mainemuseums.org.

Very truly yours,

Jessica Skwire Routhier, President
Erin I. Bishop, Ph.D., Director
Heather Moran, Advocacy Committee
David O. Smith, Advocacy Committee
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