President's Message

Joan_Portrait_150x200Dear Omaha Performing Arts patrons,

The heart and soul – and financial health – of our communities are threatened by the proposed elimination of federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. We would be doing a huge disservice to future generations if we allow government to do away with the crucial investment in the arts made by these organizations.

If you’ve been moved to tears or sheer joy by what you have seen on our stages; if you’ve seen children’s faces light up in a concert hall; if you’ve watched a neighborhood come to life through the arts – then it’s time to let your lawmakers know that the arts are vital to you and to your community.

The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity annually, which supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue. Locally, Omaha Performing Arts generates more than $40 million in economic impact.

Yet, current funding for the NEA amounts to 46¢ per capita – less than the cost of a stamp.

This critical, yet relatively small, investment in the arts by the federal government yields big dividends for the community. The value of the NEA grants, for example, extends far beyond the dollars it allocates to more than 2,000 programs each year. NEA support is a seal of approval, often legitimizing innovative programs and, most importantly, giving arts organizations the opportunity to leverage a small grant into hundreds of thousands of dollars in private support.

Recently, a grant from the NEA allowed Omaha Performing Arts to more than triple the number of students in our 2017 Musical Explorers program where students build basic music skills and experience other cultures. The grant also provides free bus transportation and curriculum materials to nearly 2,000 students.

Furthermore, the Nebraska Arts Council receives 40 percent of its funding from the NEA. The proposed cut would affect programs across our state, including the Nebraska High School Theatre Awards program, which serves students from Omaha to North Platte and Grand Island.

In the next few months, our lawmakers will be finalizing the federal budget for 2018. It’s time to make your voice heard.

Whether you identify as an independent, Republican or Democrat, we urge you – as taxpayers – to tell lawmakers how you want your money invested. Here are three ways you can make your voice heard right now:


1) Click here to sign the national petition created by Americans for the Arts.

2) Click here to send a message to your U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators.
Use this link to see/edit a sample e-mail and send directly 
to your area’s representatives from this site

3) Post your support of the arts using: 
#SavetheNEA     #ArtsAdvocacy

Thank you for your ongoing support of the arts.



Joan H. Squires 
President, Omaha Performing Arts