April 28, 2022

Congresswoman Lee Introduces Advancing Equity Through the Arts and Humanities Act

WASHINGTON, D.C.?– Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the Advancing Equity Through the Arts and Humanities Act to acknowledge the role that arts and humanities play in dismantling systemic racism in the United States.

Specifically, this legislation would create a program under the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities to provide grants to increase engagement with public and nonprofit entities, including faith-based and community-based organizations, that serve and are led by people of color, and support projects that combat racism.

“This bill acknowledges the myriad benefits of participation in the arts, especially for young people; the cultural and social significance of representation in the arts; and the systemic barriers that keep the arts out of reach in marginalized communities,” said Congresswoman Lee.

Low-income students who engage in art activities have a dropout rate of 4 percent—five times lower than their peers. Increased access to the arts has a profound effect on those most impacted by the justice system, children, veterans, and low-income communities. Moreover, concentrated cultural districts are associated with reduced poverty without neighborhood displacement, improved child welfare, and lower morbidity.

“This April is Jazz Appreciation Month and Arts, Culture & Creativity Month in my home state of California—a good time to reexamine the pervasive narrative in America that the arts are just for entertainment,” Rep. Lee continued. “We know that racial and ethnic inequality is a result of systematic and internalized racism and racist public and private policies and practices. Dismantling structural racism through the arts and humanities is critical to the health of our nation. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this bill to promote racial healing in communities across America through robust and well-funded arts programs.”

This bill has been endorsed by: The LoveLife Foundation, Americans for the Arts, Oakland Museum of California, Arts for Healing and Justice Network, Association of Art Museum Directors, California Arts Advocates, Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore, Armory Center for the Arts, Visual Communications Media, National Performance Network, Momentum Solutions, Lyra Music, Rhythm Arts Alliance a project of Community Partners, Artrain, Creative Washtenaw, The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, Asian and Asian American Arts and Culture Program, UMass Fine Arts Center, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, OPERA America, Theatre Communications Group, click here for the full list.

 To read the bill text, click here


Congresswoman Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.