SINCE ARTS advocates initiated a nationwide campaign to help save the National Endowment for the Arts last May, approximately 2,200 Marylanders have paid for telegrams to register their support.
A coalition of national arts organizations led by The American Arts Alliance set up a national phone line to alert Congress to support for the NEA's reauthorization. Each phone call to The Emergency Campaign to Save the Arts -- (1-900-226-ARTS) -- cost $4.50 and generated three telegrams which were sent to the caller's congressional representatives.
The phone line received 33,428 calls, almost half of which came from New York, California and Illinois. Maryland was among the top 10 states to respond. Its 1,309 calls ranked it slightly ahead of Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Many of these calls were generated through the efforts of Maryland Citizens for the Arts, a statewide arts advocacy organization. Maryland Citizens mailed out 9,372 postcards urging people to call the 900 number. In addition, the organization set up letter-writing trees requiring 10 people to write or phone their congressional representatives on behalf of the NEA, then persuade 10 other people to do the same . . . and so on.
People for the American Way, a civil liberties organization based in Washington, also set up a national phone line (1-800-257-4900) which offered the same basic congressional telex service for a cost of $6.75. It received approximately 20,000 calls from around the nation, according to national field director Bill Wasserman. As of Sept. 1, Marylanders had placed about 850 calls.
Since last March, Sen. Barbara Mikulski has received roughly 5,200 cards, letters and telegrams (many of them tied to the action lines) on the NEA issue. So far, the mail has run roughly four to one in support of the beleaguered arts agency.
Sen. Paul Sarbanes has received about 4,200 communications -- running two to one in favor of the NEA.