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Thesps lobby for Arts funds

Creative Coalition campaigns for $50 million

WASHINGTON — The Creative Coalition teamed up with arts agencies for a one-day campaign on Capitol Hill Tuesday to promote a $50 million boost to the National Arts Endowment budget.

The effort, which was spearheaded by Creative Coalition prexy William Baldwin, is pushing Congress to set aside the money for a Clinton administration initiative that would boost arts education in schools.

The celeb crew, which included Baldwin, Bianca Jagger and Hector Elizondo, did not just preach to the choir. Their lobbying effort included visits with Republicans who have traditionally resisted the idea of spending money on arts education and have been downright hostile toward the NEA.

“They have been receptive,” Baldwin said Tuesday, shortly before a press conference held just off the Senate floor. Normally, the area where the press conference is held is reserved for senators to meet with the press, but Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced the thesps to the press.

Baldwin said the Creative Coalition’s effort on behalf of the NEA is part of an ongoing battle to build respect for the NEA in Congress. Baldwin said several members still are concerned about 10-year-old controversies involving allegedly pornographic and anti-religious photography. But, in the past several years, the NEA has gone out of its way to distance itself from the controversies and has also worked to ensure that the entire United States benefits from the $100 million agency.

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