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Volume 24, Number 6 — June 2017

Tennessee Congressman Receives 'A+' In The Arts

Congressman Steve Cohen (TN, District 09-Memphis) led the Tennessee delegation with a 100 percent voting record and a grade of
Congressman Steve Cohen (TN, District 09-Memphis) led the Tennessee delegation with a 100 percent voting record and a grade of "A+" for the Arts.

September 23, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Sept. 16, the Americans for the Arts Action Fund PAC issued its Congressional Report Card, covering the 110th Congress (2007-2009). Congressman Steve Cohen (TN, District 09-Memphis) led the Tennessee delegation with a 100 percent voting record and a grade of "A+."

The Report Card assigns each Member of Congress a letter grade and numerical score based on his or her voting record on specific arts and arts education policy issues. Congressman Cohen is one of just 36 House members who scored an A+, and the only member from Tennessee to do so.

"I am very grateful for this recognition by Americans for the Arts," said Congressman Cohen. "Throughout my legislative career, I've advocated for more arts education, specifically more public arts education. The arts should not be viewed as an 'add-on' to core educational programs but recognized as an integral part of a complete education. Arts education should not be a luxury of the wealthy, but available to all children to enrich their lives, broaden their horizons and encourage success in education, career and life."

The 2008 Congressional Arts Report Card reveals that 181 members (43 percent) of Congress received a grade of A or higher. When the grades of the Members of each state delegation are averaged on a state-by-state basis, the highest scoring state delegation is Maine, with a perfect score of 100. Alaska and Wyoming are the lowest scoring state delegations with a score of 20 points each. Additionally, the Arts Report Card shows that support for the arts is bipartisan and growing, as evidenced in the nearly 24 percent increase in membership of the Congressional Arts Caucus since 2000. Also, 21 representatives improved their Report Card scores by one-letter grade or more from their 2006 Report Card grade.

According to the Nashville ENQUIRER, the 110th Congress is decidedly pro-arts. Congress voted to increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts from $124.4 million to $144.7 million. This $20 million increase by Congress lays the foundation for a full restoration of NEA funding to its 1992 level-$176 million. Additionally, the number of co-sponsors on the House's Artists Deduction Bill (H.R. 1524) has increased from 71 to 102.

"As the arts and arts education increasingly established a foothold during this year's presidential campaign trail, the Report Card will serve as a compelling guide for the public to make overall arts-informed decisions at the ballot box on Election Day," said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of the Americans for the Arts Action Fund. "Although the Report Card shows that Congress is progressively acknowledging the importance of the arts and arts education, further support is needed in arts funding."

The Report Card assigns each Member of Congress a letter grade and numerical score based on his or her voting record on specific arts and arts education policy issues. Four separate congressional actions are covered, and each is weighted based on its importance to the arts-with the greatest weight given to four votes on funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). A perfect score equals 100 points, and the points are correlated to a letter grade of A+ through F. The Report Card also includes a detailed arts voting record for each Member.

The entire Report Card containing letter grades and numerical scores of every Member of Congress based on his or her voting record on arts issues can be found online at www.artsactionfund.org/stay_informed/special_reports/. A complete list of the state delegation scores can be found at www.artsactionfund.org/pdf/state_ave_scores_comparison.pdf

The Action Fund PAC is a non-profit membership organization created by Americans for the Arts to engage citizens in education and advocacy in support of the arts and arts education.