The agency’s funding comprises a miniscule slice of the total federal budget—just 0.004% in 2016. But studies have shown that those dollars have an outsized impact
, going to arts organizations in rural communities across America, not just those in coastal cities. And NEA funds are often crucial in soliciting additional private grants.
For Brooks and Use All Five, the question was: “Can we use our skill sets to do two things—educate the general public, as well as bring awareness to Congress and the Senate about the NEA?”
Use All Five began work on Artifax in early February. At that point, although there were rumors that the NEA was on the chopping block, there had been no official confirmation from the administration. But when Trump released his first budget blueprint on March 16th, sure enough, the agency was slotted for elimination. “Towards the end it was a mad dash, because we really wanted to release it about a week after Trump had submitted his budget,” Brooks explained.
The site launched last week and currently features work by 20 artists, designers, and studios. Visitors to the website first select a work of art and enter their zip code. Artifax then pulls up a list of elected officials for that district, and users can send a custom or auto-generated message to the representative of their choice. (You don’t have to print anything—the message is faxed digitally.)