In 2014, IDEAS xLab (and our education/creative workforce training nonprofit Creative Agents of Change) received our VERY FIRST FUNDING from the National Endowment for the Arts (#NEA). As a result we were able to place artists inside corporations like General Electric, Humana and a healthcare business accelerator, XLeratHealth.  

In that initiative -- which was also a partnership between IDEAS xLab (then known as IDEAS 40203) and Residency Unlimited (NYC) -- artists worked side by side with corporate and healthcare leaders to launch new ideas, new processes and new products. The NEA believed in us before almost anyone else.  

That early seed funding from the NEA ultimately led to Louisville being named a Top 10 city for Best Business-Arts Partnerships in the America in 2015. 

The NEA's innovation funding  helped us to build a portfolio of ground-breaking projects as true collaborations between artists and some of our nation's largest healthcare providers and companies. Had it not been for the NEA's early validation, it would have been difficult for IDEAS xLab to have found the capacity to launch our health innovation projects which, last year, culminated in Louisville being named a 2016 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize Winner. This is the highest honor bestowed by the largest funder of healthcare in the world. A health prize for Louisville, co-led by an artist group who worked side by side with data scientists, government officials, healthcare providers and executives, community leaders  and philanthropy. IDEAS xLab and Creative Agents of Change were a bridge that connected Louisville's "grassroots" to the "grasstops".  The result being that Louisville is now recognized as one of the most innovative healthcare cities in the country.  

From technology to data science and from more culturally-responsive delivery systems to social innovation research that is creating healthier, more connected communities, ARTISTS and CULTURAL PRODUCERS are helping to push Louisville to the vanguard of 21st Century Health Innovation. All of this can be traced, in part, back to that very first NEA grant in 2014 to a fledgling arts-innovation group, IDEAS xLab.

Today, the NEA needs Louisville's help! And it is time for us to show that we believe in them!

At 7am on March 16th, the new Trump Administration released their budget proposal to fund the federal government for the coming fiscal year (FY2018). The Trump proposal includes massive budget cuts (more than $54 billion in cuts to domestic programs in one year alone). The proposal includes the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Corporation for National and Community Services (Americorps), among other federal agencies.

Take 2 minutes now to contact your members of Congress and join the #SaveTheNEA campaign.
 
What Does This Mean?
As previous reported, advisors to the President were recommending this elimination, and conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation have been attempting to end the NEA for decades, not to mention calls for its termination in budget resolutions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in years' prior.
 
Is There Any Good News?
This proposal is a blueprint and will be considered by Congress, but like all proposals, Congress will be considering their own budget priorities-and likely without much regard to the administration's request.
 
In fact, President Trump himself encouraged Congress to make some funding decisions independent of the executive branch. He stated as much last year in response to questions about arts funding. He said, "The Congress, as representatives of the people, make the determination as to what the spending priorities ought to be." And, members of Congress are already speaking out against the Trump budget, including some Republicans, who are calling the proposal "dead on arrival."
 
But make no mistake, we are taking the Trump proposal seriously and are calling on you now to contact your representatives in Congress. Let them know thateliminating the NEA would be a devastating blow to the arts in America. For more than 50 years, the NEA has expanded access to the arts for all Americans, awarding grants in every Congressional district throughout all 50 states and U.S. Territories as well as placing arts therapists in 12 military hospitals to help returning soldiers heal from traumatic brain injuries. The NEA is also an economic powerhouse, generating more than $600 million annually in additional matching funds and helping to shape a $730 billion arts and culture industry that represents 4.2% of the nation's GDP and supports 4.8 million jobs.
 
Take 2 minutes now and join the #SaveTheNEA campaign. 

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