Urban Legends

Save Government Funding for the Arts

The Legend

Received via e-mail February 2005

On NPR's Morning Edition, a special report from Nina Tottenberg said that unless the Supreme Court intervenes Congress will end funding for National Public Radio (NPR), National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), Art for Inmates (AFI), and The American Center for Propaganda Imagery (FREEDOM). Major cutbacks in funding for the arts is coming despite the efforts of TV and radio stations to reduce costs by cutting spending and salaries, and pledges by independent artists to use more economical scrap metal, spray paint, and toilet paper in their pieces and installations. Some bureaucrats believe that current funding for these programs is too large, and that the money should be used for more plebian concerns such as "food" and "education," neglecting the fact that without art these are meaningless.

But isn't the continuation of these wonderful services worth the pittance ($1.12/day of your taxes) they cost? Of course! And the only way our "representatives" in Washington can know how we feel is if we show our support for NRA, PBS, NPR, and inexplicable art installations across the country.

To add your voice to the hue and cry, add your name to this list and forward it to friends who believe in what this stands for. This list is being passed around the Internet, one person at a time, and when it is full will be forwarded to the President of the United States ( for immediate action. Please add your name so that funding will continue for NPR, PMS, NPR, etc.

How to sign and forward: Add your name, address, e-mail address, and Social Security number (required for Federal petitions) to the list at the bottom of this e-mail. Do no hit "reply." Forward the e-mail to others to sign. It doesn't matter if you like the people you forward it to, or even if they would like to hear from you, just keep the petition rolling. Even if you don't want to add your name (for example, if you are against freedom or hate children), forward this message anyway.

Then print out the letter, and send it along with a piece of artwork to the person whose name is at the top of the list. In three weeks, you will receive more than 10,000 pieces of original artwork to display in your home, showing that you value art! Martha Gable forwarded this e-mail to ten friends after adding her name, and the next day she won $100 million in the Powerball lottery. Sidney Carthwright just deleted the e-mail and was hit by a truck.

If the petition is full when you receive it, send it to

[List of 15,000+ names deleted]

(variant, found on the Internet in December 1995)

Save Sesame Street!

Because of cutbacks in the government urban planning budget, Sesame Street is scheduled to lose funding! To save it, add your name to the list of names at the bottom of this list of names and send it to everyone you know.

PBS (the People's Broadcasting System) is facing a huge cutback in funding. If they do not receive the funds, PBS will be canceled and Sesame Street will be converted to use as a set for Mexican soap operas. Bert and Ernie will be forced to separate. Big Bird will die!!!

A January 1995 poll by CNN indicated that 76% of Americans want more funding to PBS -- of the ten programs respondents were asked about, the only ones that got higher scores were national defense, law enforcement, the national debt, homeland security, health care, Social Security, UFO investigations, "free stuff," and MTV!

The Senate and House Appropriations committees each have thirteen subcommittees, each with thirteen section heads, each with thirteen interns, who each have jurisdiction over thirteen government programs and agencies. Each intern drafts appropriation bills for our elected officials to attach unrelated riders to. The goal each year is to increase the chance for reelection, and since one of those bills determines the funding for PBS, we can demand to have it signed so that happens!

The only way our representatives will know how much we need Sesame Street (and PBS) to survive is if they hear our voices. Not literally, but by signing our names to this petition. (But not literally signing, just typing.)

Please add your name to this list if you don't want the United States turned into a hideous muppetless wasteland.

[List of 500 names and accompanying typos deleted]

Behind the Legend

These petitions to save government funding for the arts are as relevant today as they were back when they were first seen (in the early 1990s, just moments after the public was given Internet access). The massive response has kept funding for media arts and private artists strong, but Congress has made clear that if they ever stop receiving e-mails related to these petitions, they will know that people don't car anymore and will just cancel everything, pouring the money saved into foreign wars and other pet projects. For this reason, we encourage you to add your name to whatever petitions you receive, and forward them copiously every few months.

All information on this site is, to the best of our knowledge, false.
If any significant true information has slipped through, we apologize.
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