Tell Congress to Support Non-Commercial Radio

You’ve probably heard by now that public broadcasting in the United States is under attack on Capitol Hill. Public broadcasting in general - and non-commercial radio in particular - is an essential part of our cultural infrastructure. Fractured Atlas worked with our good friends at The Future of Music Coalition to draft a letter expressing support for non-commercial radio from the arts community, which will be distributed to members of Congress in the coming days. Many of our peer service organizations signed on in solidarity.

The text of the letter is below. If you agree with these sentiments, please take a minute to speak out.

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Dear Members of Congress:

On behalf of the thousands of local artists and arts organizations we represent, we want to express to you the unique importance of the noncommercial radio sector to the viability and success of American arts and culture and encourage you to strongly support the strengthening of this critical resource.

Our members make up the entire range of American artistic enterprises — music, theater, dance, visual arts, film, and more. While our disciplines, audiences, funding sources and aesthetics all vary, we are united in our reliance on local non-commercial radio to promote, discuss and critique our work. Non-commercial radio — from larger public radio stations to independent community radio to college and high-school outlets — provides an essential and irreplaceable element of local cultural infrastructure.

Non-commercial radio stations provide social and cultural value that their commercial counterparts do not. We value and appreciate commercial radio; in fact we wish there were more commercial stations committed to the traditional values of localism, competition and diversity. But we recognize that, ultimately, the overwhelming majority of today’s commercial radio stations exist to deliver specific demographic audiences to advertisers. When it makes business sense for these stations to discuss or promote a local symphony or band, theater performance or new gallery, they do it, and we appreciate it. But these are programming exceptions, not the rule.

By stark contrast, the discussion and promotion of local arts is central to the mission of noncommercial stations, from huge National Public Radio affiliates to tiny low-power FM outlets. Non-commercial radio stations promote their local cultural scenes, provide platforms for review and discussion, and are key supporters and sponsors of cultural events. These stations do this not because it delivers an audience to advertisers but because such programming is central to their missions. It is hard to overestimate the damage that would be done to local arts scenes if these stations were taken off the air.

For many years, arts leaders have called on policy makers to expand and protect this unique resource. It is therefore very troubling to read that some members of Congress believe it is a good idea to reduce or even eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio. Such an action would have a devastating impact on thousands of local arts organizations and arts supporters that rely on these stations to learn about and discuss upcoming arts events in their communities. If anything, this entire infrastructure warrants increased federal investment, including additional licenses and funding.

We have encouraged some of our constituents to contact you directly to explain how these stations are so integral to the viability of the American cultural marketplace. In the interim, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Alternate ROOTS
American Federation of Musicians
Americans for the Arts
American Music Center
Association of Performing Arts Presenters
Chorus America
Dance/USA
Fractured Atlas
Future of Music Coalition
League of American Orchestras
National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture
National Alliance for Musical Theatre
National Association of Latino Arts and Culture
National Performance Network
OPERA America
Performing Arts Alliance
Theatre Communications Group


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