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Advocacy Alert: Act Now to Support the NEA!
By Susan McGreevy-Nichols
Posted on 2/20/2018 11:00 AM

Dear NDEO Members and Supporters,

I am writing to you today about the status of federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, which is a critical source of financial support for dance and dance education in the United States. As you may have heard, President Trump released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2019. This budget once again puts forward the effective elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts by allocating only 29 million dollars, enough to oversee its closure. The Arts in Education program of the U.S. Department of Education and many other cultural organizations are similarly affected in this budget proposal.

A similar proposal was made by the administration for fiscal year 2018, but thanks in large part to your advocacy efforts, both the U.S. House and Senate displayed strong bipartisan support for the NEA in their proposed budgets. Because non-defense spending is currently being appropriated to federal agencies for 2018, it is vital that we keep advocating for dance on the national level. Furthermore, it will be necessary to continue urging Congress to continue to fully fund the NEA through 2018, 2019, and beyond.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was established by an act of the U.S. Congress in 1965, and is "dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education.” It is an independent agency of the United States federal government that has granted over five billion dollars to arts organizations throughout its history. The annual cost to taxpayers is 46 cents per capita, and throughout much of its history, the NEA has enjoyed bipartisan support, largely due to the positive impact of the arts on local economies. Forty percent of NEA grant money is awarded through state arts agencies, many of whom will have difficulty continuing their work without NEA support.

The National Dance Education Organization has benefited from financial support from the NEA for over twelve years. NEA grants have been essential to the development and growth of many of our signature programs and publications. In particular, the NEA provided crucial to support the following:

  • Online Professional Development Institute (OPDI): NEA funding supported the implementation of the OPDI program and the development of several of our early courses.

  • The Dance Entry Level Teacher Assessment (DELTA) Exam: Through a grant from the NEA, NDEO designed the DELTA, an online certification exam in dance to determine base-line competencies of entry level dance teachers applying for state K-12 licensure. With this NEA support, the research and development was completed, as well as a field-testing process.

  • National Core Arts Standards in Dance Professional Development Series: The NEA provided support for programs designed to help teachers implement the 2014 National Core Arts Standards in Dance. These included two Special Topics Conferences (in Maryland and California), a series of webinars, two OPDI Courses, and a standards poster.

  • Evidence: A Report on the Impact of Dance in the K12 Setting: The research and writing of this report and the creation of the Stand Up For Dance in America’s K-12 Schools was made possible by a grant from the NEA.

In addition, the NEA has supported programming at thousands of dance and dance education throughout its history. The grantees include non-profit community arts organization, presenting venues, university-affiliated programs, dance companies and festivals. A diverse range of programs are supported, including those centered on arts education, community engagement, and professional performance. A full listing of 2018 first round grantees, sortable by state can be found here. These programs have helped advance the field of dance education, while directly and indirectly serving students nationwide and employing dance professionals, educators, researchers, curators, and administrators. We know that many of our members have relied on funding from the NEA to help grow and sustain their own programs.

Now more than ever, we need to work together to advocate for dance on the national, state, and local levels. It is only through our joint efforts that we will be able to continue to support and advance dance education in our schools, colleges, and communities. NDEO will continue to work with our partners, including Americans for the Arts, to advocate for dance at the national level. As we have throughout our history, we will support funding for dance and dance education as a National Partner for Arts Advocacy Day. We will work with the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE) and the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards to increase access to and improve the quality of dance education in K-12 schools. We will work with our State Affiliates as they address local and statewide issues related to dance education.

We are asking for your support in our advocacy efforts. Here are a few action items you can take to show your support for dance education nationwide:

  • Take two minutes to email and call your two U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative and ask them to continue bipartisan support for the National Endowment for the Arts now.

  • Register to attend National Arts Advocacy Day on March 12-13, 2018 in Washington, DC where you can add your voice in person. Let us know you’re coming!

  • Join the Arts Action Fund (for free) to receive alerts from Americans for the Arts about pressing legislative issues.

  • Join or renew your NDEO Membership to show your support for dance education by being a part of the largest dance education membership organization in the country. We are stronger together than any of us could be alone!

  • Plan to attend our Annual National Conference, Connections, Knowledge, and Leadership: A New Era in Dance Education, Thursday, October 5 - Sunday, October 7, 2018 in San Diego, Ca.

  • Get involved with NDEO: Join a committee, run for a Board Position, nominate yourself or a colleague for a National Award, or serve as a mentor.

  • Stay informed: We will use the Advocacy Forum to post updates and action items involving the NEA and other pressing legislative issues.

  • Keep us posted: Post updates on local or national advocacy efforts on our Advocacy Forum, email them to, or tag us on social media (@ndeodance).

  • Follow us on social media to stay up to date on the latest developments from NDEO and our partners: @National Dance Education Organization - NDEO onFacebook, @ndeodance on Instagram and Twitter

Thank you for allowing NDEO to support you, and for working with us to advance dance education centered in the arts.


Susan McGreevy-Nichols

NDEO Executive Director

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