Rep. Charlie Dent and local organizations discuss importance of arts and humanities funding

In her 19 years of working for Touchstone Theatre in Bethlehem, Mary Wright has seen the visible impact the arts and humanities can have on a child.

Wright teaches local kids how to develop and write their own plays through Touchstone Theatre’s Young Playwrights’ Lab. At the end of the eight-week program, the kids get to see their plays professionally produced and performed.

“We are planting seeds that may seem really, really small and we work with kids who are reluctant readers and reluctant writers,” Wright said. “But the moment a kid says, ‘Don’t make me stop writing,’ it’s kind of a miracle moment.”

Wright shared her experiences at an event hosted by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council to discuss arts and humanities funding with U.S. Rep. Charles Dent, R-15th District, and representatives from other local organizations on Monday morning at the Bethlehem SteelStacks.

“Thank you for the work that you do. Your work enriches our communities and our lives,” Dent said. “People in the arts will go into communities that are often distressed and turn them around. They’re not only helping culturally and artistically, but they are participating in a very important community development aspect.”

The future of funding for the National Endowments for Arts and Humanities and the Institute for Museum and Library Services generated worries in March when President Trump proposed deep cuts in his budget plan.

Dent said calling local U.S. representatives is the best way to ensure arts and humanities programs continue to be funded.

“You have to be concerned and you have to contact your members of Congress. But you should be aware that Congress will write these bills. They are not written by the president,” Dent said. “Congress will ultimately control the purse strings on this stuff.”

Laurie Zierer, executive director of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, broke down the federal…

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