Baldwin, Folds to press for more US arts funding
Alec Baldwin gestures during an interview with The Associated Press in Washington, Monday, April 16, 2012, Alec Baldwin is going to Congress to ask for sustained federal funding for arts programs amid the ever tight budget climate. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Alec Baldwin visited the nation's capital on Monday to press for increased federal funding for the arts after government dollars were cut last year, saying such funding ensures the public affordable access to theater, dance and music.
The actor for NBC's "30 Rock" told The Associated Press he was returning to Congress to press for arts funding after the culture wars of the 1990s first drew him into the same debate about 20 years ago. Part of his passion, he said, was protecting freedom of expression through the arts, as well as arts education.
Baldwin, 54, said his own industry of TV and film is often like the "potato chip business — it's junk food." For more sophisticated arts, he said he has to go out and find music, theater or dance programs just like anyone else. But for him, a night out for culture isn't an issue.
Musician Ben Folds is interviewed with The Associated Press in Washington, Monday, April 16, 2012, Fold and Alec Baldwin are going to Congress to ask for sustained federal funding for arts programs amid the ever tight budget climate. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
"There are tremendous parts of the country right now where there's a need for federal funding for the arts in order to bring that to people on a level that they can afford," he said. "We still have a cultural heritage to protect in this country. This is what's going to enrich people's lives."
Baldwin said the nation has fallen far short of its high of about $176 million in arts funding in 1992. When accounting for inflation since then, he argues, the U.S. should be spending about $100 million more on the arts than it is.
For 2012, the arts endowment received about $147 million — a $22 million cut since 2010.
"If I had any influence, I'd want the (National Endowment for the Arts) to have a budget of a billion dollars," Baldwin said. "We spend too much money on war in this country."