Wall Street Journal – Campaign to fund the arts catches ear of Cochran

ndependent agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts are not allowed to lobby Congress. But their supporters have been busy. The Americans for the Arts group has organized letter-writing campaigns, rallies and meetings with elected officials to try to persuade Senate Republicans to restore $40 million in NEA funding.

“Funding for the arts is actually a conservative model compared to the rest of the world,” said the group’s president, Robert L. Lynch.

The campaign appears to have the ear of Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, who keeps a grand piano in his office. Mr. Cochran said in a statement that he believed federal support for the arts is worthwhile and that he was ensuring that “such expenditures are treated fairly.”

Mr. Cochran’s potential support may also be crucial for public broadcasting. The lobby arm of the Association of Public Television Stations, APTS Action Inc., hired three new Republican lobbyists after the November elections, including one of Mr. Cochran’s former aides, and another who had previously worked for House Speaker John Boehner, to defend funding for the Public Broadcasting Service. The lobbyists have argued that rural areas will be hardest hit by funding cuts and could lose their only television stations.

Mr. Cochran said in a statement he has long supported public broadcasting.

Wall Street Journal
4/4/11