Ms. SLAUGHTER. Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to be here with a member of the Rules Committee and my cochair of the Arts Caucus. It is wonderful to work with Mr. Platts, and I appreciate the kind words that he said about the work that we do.
I rise today to honor the 50th anniversary of Americans for the Arts. As the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in the United States, Americans for the Arts continues to be dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for participation and enjoyment in all forms of the arts.
Founded in 1960 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the original mission was and continues to be to enhance support for the nonprofit arts. In 1965, Americans for the Arts played a key role in the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts. A half century later, Americans for the Arts continues to foster the arts at the local, State, and national level.
Under the remarkable stewardship of Robert Lynch for the last 25 years, Americans for the Arts has provided leadership and training to local public and nonprofit agencies through a national network of arts and business councils, business committees for the arts, and local and State agencies.
Research by Americans for the Arts measured the economic impact of the arts, which was a wonderful piece of work and gave us a lot of ammunition on the Arts Caucus. It showed that approximately 100,000 nonprofit cultural organizations generate $166.2 billion in economic activity every year--now that is a great return on not much money--supporting 5.7 million jobs. In my congressional district alone, there are over 1,200 arts-related businesses employing almost 16,000 people.
In addition to fostering art jobs in our local communities, Americans for the Arts has worked to promote the importance of arts education in the public schools. Young people who regularly participate in arts programs are more likely to have better attendance records, to be involved in their school government, excel in their academics, and develop the creative and innovative skills necessary for us to compete in the 21st century global workforce.
Through national events like Arts Advocacy Day, Americans for the Arts brings national attention to the importance of arts throughout our Nation. The arts define our culture and instill unique character in the communities across our Nation. Art transcends barriers of language, time, and generation, translating cultural differences, breathing life into history, and bridging experience across cultures. They accomplish the seemingly impossible task of both revealing our differences across the globe
while managing to illuminate all that connects us.
I thank Americans for the Arts and the wonderful staff and all of the people who have devoted so much of their working careers to this noble effort. And of their wonderful, fine accomplishments that they have achieved over 50 years, I am sure that the next 50 will produce even more great work, and we will all continue to enjoy the richness that the arts provide to each of our lives.
Mr. PLATTS. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to yield such time as he may consume to the distinguished gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Ehlers), both a strong supporter of the arts as well as computer science education, the last resolution that we adopted. He has been a great leader in these areas to us.
Mr. EHLERS. I thank the gentleman for yielding. First of all, I will say that I do support the arts. In fact, in a town meeting once, I was attacked by one of my constituents for my support of the arts. He objected to the amount of money that I had voted for for the National Endowment for the Arts.
I told him that I hated to take up too much time in my town meeting defending myself on that issue, and I would appreciate very much if he would write me a letter and send it to me with his reasons for why he felt that way. Then I added to that, I told him if you do in fact write me a letter, the amount you pay for the paper, the envelope, and the stamp will exceed the total amount that you have paid toward the National Endowment for the Arts. It was a simple calculation. I see my fellow physicist
smiling because that is the sort of thing he would do, too. I calculated the per capita cost of the National Endowment for the Arts, and, indeed, it was less than the cost of the paper, envelope, and stamp.
The audience laughed. I don't think the person who asked the question was laughing very much, but he took it in good spirit.
What I want to do is to make some comments about the previous resolution which was passed, which is something I submitted last year and again this year. I think it is important to emphasize it because we are losing the computer science battle among the nations of the world. I did not realize the extent of that until one of my constituents at Calvin College--literally in my backyard--Dr. Joel Adams, met with me. He explained what was happening nationally with the enrollments in computer science,
and they were alarmingly low.
So last year, for the first time, we established a day of recognition for computer science and to honor the birthday of Grace Murray Hopper, one of the first female computer scientists. This will mark the second annual celebration of this important week.
Computer technology and the innovations it yields are transforming our world and are critical to the global competitiveness of our economy. Not only that, they are very important in developing the science of cyberwarfare, on which we are trying to get up to speed, but we are not preparing an adequate and diverse workforce to meet the ever-growing demand for the information technology sector, which includes some of the country's most innovative and successful companies.
While it is very important that students in K-12 are exposed to computer science, many do not get a chance to learn about it in schools today. The lack of understanding of computer science and how it fuels innovation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines contribute to a lack of interest in computing careers, especially among women and underrepresented minorities, whose participation rates in computer science are among the lowest of any scientific field. By introducing
students to computer science at an early age and by providing them with learning experiences in computer science at all levels, we can reverse this trend and can expand and diversify our technology workforce.
I am very pleased that Congressman Polis joined me in introducing this resolution. Also, I thank Cameron Wilson from the Association for Computing Machinery, and I thank Joel Adams with the Department of Computer Science at Calvin College for their efforts in raising awareness about the importance of computer science education. In addition, I thank Julia Jester, formerly of my staff, for her help in drafting and introducing this resolution, as well as for her dedicated service as the
staff director of the STEM Education Caucus.
I ask all of my colleagues to join in supporting the designation of the second annual National Computer Science Education Week to raise awareness about these important issues.
Once again, I thank Congressman Todd Platts for giving me the time to insert extraneous material on this particular topic of the arts.
Mr. POLIS. Again, I thank Mr. Ehlers for his remarks. It has been a pleasure for these past 2 years to cosponsor and to raise awareness of National Computer Science Education Week.
Madam Speaker, I am now pleased to yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Holt).
Mr. HOLT. I thank the gentleman from Colorado.
Madam Speaker, I rise as an original cosponsor of H. Res. 1582, to honor and salute Americans for the Arts on its 50th anniversary. My colleagues should not be surprised that two of the scientists here on the floor, the gentleman from Michigan and I, would rise to speak in favor of the arts. [Page: H6950]
I want to commend Representative Slaughter for introducing this important resolution but especially for her tireless work to champion the arts and to remind us all of the importance they play in our lives and in our society.
As a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus, I believe that the arts play a crucial role in our society--enhancing our creativity, promoting critical aspects of education, and providing Americans with opportunities to view works of beauty and personal expression. Through the arts, we as a Nation, as a people, come to know ourselves. We push our boundaries, and we break free of our prejudices. Furthermore, the arts inspire our children to explore their own creativity and to encourage positive
development in the course of their educational careers.
Has anyone here not observed how a student can blossom academically after the student finds a sense of accomplishment and achievement through artistic expression? The arts are a fundamental component of our society and warrant Federal funding.
Americans for the Arts was chartered in 1960 in North Carolina with the ``mission of enhancing public and private support for the nonprofit arts and serving local arts councils in the United States.'' Fifty years later, we all owe Americans for the Arts a debt of gratitude for successfully accomplishing this mission year in and year out. A few years after they were formed, Americans for the Arts helped establish the National Endowment for the Arts, which, to this day, has exposed millions of
Americans to the arts and has supported local artists in a multitude of disciplines.
Even in this difficult economy, Americans for the Arts has continued to lead by supporting local public and nonprofit arts agencies. Americans for the Arts has also continued to help expose a new generation of students to the arts, both in and out of school. Further, as the gentlewoman from New York reported, Americans for the Arts has noted in its report of ``Arts and Economic Prosperity'' across the country that the ``nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic
activity every year.'' The report also details that the arts support 5.7 million jobs and generate $29.6 billion in government revenue. So not only are the arts good for our cultural development as a society, but they are good for our economic development as well.
While today we are recognizing Americans for the Arts for their first 50 years of accomplishments, we here should wish them well for the next 50 years. We need Americans for the Arts to remain, for years to come, a vital institution in our society.
Mr. EHLERS. I thank the gentleman for yielding again.
Madam Speaker, I would like to follow up on comments made by my fellow physicist, Dr. Holt, about how art is spreading and multiplying.
In the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the center of my district in my hometown, we have established the ArtPrize. A relatively young man by the name of Rick DeVos started this last year. It has been extremely successful. There have been entries from all over the world--many very, very good entries. We have just this week started again the ArtPrize for this year, again under the leadership of Rick DeVos. With the assistance of his family, they have done tremendous work.
I could not believe the quality of the art that was on display last year when my wife and I and some members of my family strolled through the streets of Grand Rapids. Every corner, every street, every building front, and every building lobby was filled with art. We attracted some 300,000 people to our city just to see the art that was on display.
This is an example that I would hope would be followed someday by most of the cities of our Nation. Certainly, in the meantime, though, it is a wonderful event, and it brings in many people from different parts of the country and, indeed, from different parts of the world to view the wonderful art that is on display in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.