May 11, 2023


Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-12) today reintroduced the Advancing Equity Through the Arts and Humanities Act to acknowledge the role of arts and humanities in dismantling systemic racism in the United States.

The proposed legislation aims to establish a program through the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This program will offer grants to public and nonprofit organizations, including those led by people of color, as well as faith-based and community-based groups. The grants will support projects that work towards combatting racism and increasing engagement with these organizations.

"The Advancing Equity Through Arts and Humanities Act recognizes the countless advantages of engaging in the arts, particularly for young people. It also acknowledges the cultural and social importance of representation in the arts and the obstacles that prevent marginalized communities from accessing these resources regularly," said Congresswoman Lee. Throughout history, art has played a crucial role in the fight for equity both in the United States and around the world. Creative expressions such as music, poetry, paintings, and other forms of art have been instrumental in conveying emotions, communicating complex ideas, inspiring action, and achieving impossible goals. As the late icon Harry Belafonte once said, ‘In poor environments, I find great inspiration. Many of the men and women whom I admire as artists, the things they write, the songs they sing, the admission is filled with inspired moments to overcome oppression.’ Mr. Belafonte was a tremendous example of someone who found meaning and broke barriers through the arts. It is in his memory and on behalf of past, current, and future artists that I reintroduce this legislation.”

Engaging in artistic activities can significantly decrease the dropout rate of low-income students by five times compared to their peers. Improved access to the arts can have a powerful impact on children, veterans, low-income communities, and those affected by the justice system. Additionally, cultural districts have been linked to reduced poverty, improved child welfare, and lower morbidity without displacing neighborhoods.

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.