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

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.



December 12, 2018 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) congratulated former Brooks Museum of Art director Kaywin Feldman on her appointment as the fifth director and first women to lead the national Gallery of Art that she has called “arguably America’s greatest treasure.”

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

September 26, 2018 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) applauded House passage of the Music Modernization Act, a bill that updates provisions of federal copyright law to account for the transformation of the music industry by the internet, music streaming and smart phones. It also expands federal copyright protection to pre-1972 sound recordings to ensure that legacy artists are appropriately compensated for the use of their work.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

August 17, 2018 Enewsletters

Dear Friend, 

August 16, 2018 Press Release

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today noted the sad passing of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, who thrilled millions with her renditions of gospel, Motown, R & B, jazz and pop classics, and made the following statement:

July 12, 2018 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) announced a $142,362 grant to the National Civil Rights Museum to build the skills of young African American students and frontline staff members to address the lack of minorities in the museum field. Another grant for $24,855 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which was created by Congress in the legislation that authorized building the popular National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall, will go to the Withers Collection Museum and Gallery’s sports collection.