As a lifelong patron of the arts, I have made it a priority to assist the arts community both locally and nationally throughout my legislative career. The arts play a vital role in our community's economic growth and in providing cultural and educational benefits as well. I am pleased to have received an A+ on the Americans for the Arts Action Fund Congressional Scorecard.

Art in Memphis

I am acutely aware of the role the arts community plays in the Memphis economy, as well as its role in establishing Memphis’s unique atmosphere and culture. Memphis is recognized internationally as a haven and home for established and aspiring artists alike.

A 2012 Creative Industries report released by Americans for the Arts shows that Memphis is home to 1,740 arts-related businesses, and that these businesses employ 8,275 people. These are real jobs that contribute to our local economy and to our local pocketbooks. These jobs help to keep Memphis established as a cornerstone of tourism, which furthers economic development.

As a State Senator I worked to establish the Tennessee license plate “art is…a rainbow” which provides partial funding for the Tennessee Arts Commission.

National Endowment of the Arts

As a long-time supporter of the arts, I strongly oppose any cuts that would negatively impact the NEA’s ability to provide grants and other funding to arts-based businesses in Memphis. I have consistently voted against amendments to the federal budget and appropriation bills which would cut funding to the NEA as well as other organizations and programs that support the arts and jobs.

Art in Classrooms

Throughout my legislative career, I’ve advocated for more arts education, specifically more public arts education.  The arts should not be viewed as an ‘add-on’ to core educational programs but recognized as an integral part of a complete education.

Arts education programs provide various benefits for our youth and the workforce and therefore, it is important to find ways to make sure that arts academic courses receive equal support as math and science courses. I continue to support measures that prepare our future workforce through innovation and creativity in the schools through a well-rounded education.

More on Arts

September 9, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (or CSCE, also known as the Helsinki Commission), tonight wrote to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to condemn the crackdown on academic freedom in his country and recent limitations on freedom of expression. Congressman Cohen noted that the OSCE expressed a similar concern in a resolution passed in 2017.

The Congressman’s letter reads in part:

August 7, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art will receive a $52,460 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to assess its 10,000-object permanent collection in preparation for its relocation in 2025. The grant includes the services of consultants who will review and help digitize the collection for display on the museum’s website.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

June 4, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that Amiracle Sanaa Laney of Cordova, an 11th grader at the Tennessee Virtual School, has won the Congressional Art Competition for the 9th Congressional District. Her painting, “Beauty in the Middle of a Pandemic” will hang in the U.S. Capitol along with the winners from other congressional districts around the country.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

June 4, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that the Stax Museum of American Soul Music will be receiving a grant of $168,728 from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences’ African American History and Culture program. The grants are designed to build the capacity of African American museums and support the growth and development of museum professionals.

May 15, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS -- Each spring, a nation-wide high school arts competition is sponsored by the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Congressional Art Competition is open to all high school students in the 9th District. The winning artwork of our district’s competition will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol. The exhibit in Washington will include the winning artwork from all participating districts from around the country.

January 16, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that three artistic projects in Memphis will be receiving a total of $35,000 in grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). 

July 9, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressmen Steve Cohen, Jim Cooper, Tim Burchett, John Rose and David Kustoff of Tennessee today introduced the bipartisan Stadiums Operating under New Guidance (SONG) Act which would give the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the authority to issue Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) for concerts and other events held at stadiums across the country. 

May 16, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus, today announced that the National Endowment for the Arts will be making grants to Creative Aging Memphis ($10,000) to support its Senior Arts Series; New Ballet Ensemble ($30,000) to support year-round dance instruction, mentoring and tutoring; and Opera Memphis Inc. ($25,000) to support 30 days of opera and The McCleave Project, which seeks to deepen the company’s engagement on issues of equity and diversity in opera, both on stage and in its audience.

May 7, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) congratulated the National Civil Rights Museum, its supporters and staff for winning the prestigious National Medal for Museum and Library Science from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, announced Tuesday.

The National Civil Rights Museum was one of 10 winners of the medal, the nation’s highest honor given to libraries and museums that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. The medals will be awarded at a ceremony in Washington on June 12.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

March 13, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) went to the House floor this morning to deliver remarks on the life and passing of his friend, Memphis songwriter and recovery minister John Kilzer. See his remarks here.