Saturday, April 9, 2011

Actor Tim Robbin's Letter to Congress

In 1976, when I was 17 years old, I received a check for 50 dollars from
the National Endowment for the Arts.

I was a member of a touring theater company that performed free shows in
low-income neighborhoods throughout New York City. We rehearsed for five
weeks and performed for eight so my per hour income was paltry if not
pathetic, but I remember a great sense of pride when I cashed that check.

I was being paid by my government for entertaining people. I was proud
to live in a country where that could happen. It also gave me great
confidence in my talent. I continued to pursue this profession.

Within ten years the investment by my government of fifty dollars in
1976 was returning hundreds of thousands of dollars back to them in

Within the next decade the government received an even sweeter bounty on
their fifty-dollar investment. And I was proud to pay these taxes. As I
have been proud to invest back into the arts with The Actors' Gang, a
30-year-old organization that provides free educational programs to
public school children and at risk teens and offers affordable and
accessible theatrical and musical events to the citizens of Los Angeles.

I am one story amongst many Americans who have benefited greatly from
the arts programs the NEA has supported over the 46 years of its



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