Dear 317 Main Community, 

Normally, I reserve my missives for the quarterly newsletter, but with federal funding for the arts on the chopping block, I am compelled to reach out to you today to share my thoughts about what this could mean for 317 Main Community Music Center as well as other arts and cultural organizations. 

As you probably know by now,  the current administration’s budget proposal calls for the elimination of ALL funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in fiscal year 2018.  

To put things in perspective, the NEA’s slice of the current budget pie is .004%, or less than 1/2 of one hundredth of one percent. So, while the cut would do very little to help balance the federal budget, it could throw things way off balance in rural states such as Maine where a little NEA funding goes a long way.  

According to the Maine Arts Commission, 65% of the NEA’s direct grants go to small arts organizations like 317 Main and nearly half of the MAC’s annual budget is comprised of NEA Partnership grant funds.  

Here’s the trickle down for 317 Main. We received 2 grants from the Maine Arts Commission this year.  An Arts Learning Grant, to support our fiddle partnership program at East End Community school in Portland and a second Creative Aging Grant to support the expansion of our Deep Roots programming for music lovers age 55+.

Why does a string program in a city school or a music lecture series in a retirement community even matter?  To those of us who who are lucky enough to see and hear the transformative power of music every day, we can tell you they matter a great deal because 

  • music turns strangers into friends, 
  • music allows us to think creatively and engage with each other in new ways
  • music helps us put abstract ideas into collective action/movement
  • music creates beauty when and where it’s needed most

As our Music Education Director Chris Moore likes to say, “Music is the superconductor of human connectivity.”

These are important programs that touch many lives.

Here are the action steps we are taking today. 

  • We are reaching out to the members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation to explain why we must strongly defend federal funding for the arts.
  • If you feel the same way, we strongly encourage you to contact the delegation and activate your own friends and neighbors to do the same. Here’s how to take action.   
  • It’s important for all of us to share our stories about how our lives have been touched and improved by access to the arts. In the coming weeks, we’ll be asking you that question in person, but if you’d like to share your story right now, send an email, a short video or a song to our Communications Director Amy Sinclair at [email protected] Start it off with music matters to me because…

I am grateful to you every day for sharing your music with us. 

Play On!

John Williams
317 Main Executive Director