here is a copy of my personalized letter:
The Honorable Jason Chaffetz
U.S. House of Representatives
1032 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-4403
Dear Congressman Chaffetz:
I am writing to express my disappointment about a recent amendment (S. Amendment. No. 309, offered by Sen. Tom Coburn) barring any museums, zoos, and aquariums from receiving any funds through the economic stimulus bill.
Museums employ more than a half-million Americans, spend an estimated $14.5 billion annually, and rank among the top three family vacation destinations. In fact, visitors to cultural and heritage destinations stay 53% longer and spend 36% more money than other kinds of tourists. Unfortunately, the economic downturn has forced museums to struggle just to maintain essential services.
I would like to provide for you a Community and Economic Impact Statement for my institution, the Sego Art Center:
- Sego Art Center employs 25 people in our community;
- Each year, Sego Art Center spends $15,000 on goods and services in our community. As a fledgling 501 (c) (3) all of this funding is garnered through grassroots fundraising, at least 90% of which comes from college age/recent college graduates. We Just recently received non profit status and will rely heavily on grants to survive;
- Sego Art Center serves 10,000-12,000 visitors each year, including 20% from out of town, this includes our promotion of Provo gallery stroll. This last December opening there were 940 attendees, this is up from LESS then 50 the year before, Sego is truly changing and revitalizing downtown Provo;
- Sego Art Center serves 2,000 schoolchildren each year through school visits to museums. We are also working closely with local schools to provide exhibit space for kids and reintroduce the arts into educational programing, where it has been cut;
- Admission fee: 0.
Museums are also critical partners to school districts. We work with school districts to both train educators and help teach the curriculum. We offer after-school programs for at-risk youth. Zoos and aquariums have tremendous public benefit for environmental education and wildlife conservation.
Please consider the economic impact that museums, zoos, and aquariums have on our community. They are in fact economic engines and a vital part of our nation's educational infrastructure, and will be critical in the economic recovery and revitalization of cities and localities.
I look forward to hearing your views on this issue.