#ShareTheNumbers and Fight for Culture

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Last night during the curtain speech for RoosevElvis (Re-MX’D) at New York Live Arts, we shared the following information with our audience:

  • The TEAM received a total of $34,530 in government funding over the 2.5 years of developing and premiering RoosevElvis.
  • $10,000 of that was a grant from the NEA, which accounted for 0.0068% of the NEA’s budget in 2014 when it was awarded. That’s less than one one hundredth of a percent.
  • RoosevElvis was subsequently ridiculed in GOP senator Tom Coburn’s annual “Wastebook as an example of wasteful government spending.
  • RoosevElvis has generated $197,725 in box office revenue to date.
  • We’ve leveraged that $10,000 grant to provide compensation to 20 individual artists and a half dozen production staff, paying out a total of $178,213 over the past 5 years.
  • Last night’s performance was our 94th, and to date over 14,000 people have seen the show since it premiered.

NEA funds came to us at a critical moment of producing the premiere of this show, which directly led to the robust national and international touring we’ve enjoyed for the past year and a half. Though it isn’t the biggest part of our budget, government support is a vital part of how we make our work.

Funding for the entire stream of culture and critical thinking in our country is under attack, from National Public Radio to the National Endowment for the Humanities to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to the National Endowment for the Arts.

This country is not a faceless corporation. The agencies and programs that are on the chopping block are essential to the rights of individuals, rights to expression, information, fair trial, education, and so much more. American fundamentals exist to protect the people of the United States, not the United States, Inc.

We were blown away by the audience’s response to hearing these figures, and so we are inviting our colleagues to #ShareTheNumbers–in curtain speeches, eblasts, and across social media—to tell your community what government grants have paid for and made possible. Let’s use our platforms to illustrate the exponential power of every grant dollar in action. We are taxpayers, we are job creators, we are community developers. We must ask our audiences, our boards, and our donors to call their representatives and #FightForCulture.


Photo: Helen Murray

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