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In his first federal budget plan back in March, President Trump proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  It was the first time a president had called for ending the endowments, created in 1965 by Lyndon Johnson stating that any “advanced civilization” must fully value the arts, the humanities, and cultural activity.

From cuts in arts funding and art education, to proposed legislation by many states attempting to restrict political protest, to tweets attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the press, governmental hostility to free expression has not reached such a fevered pitch in recent memory.  One step we urge you to take right now to fight back is to support the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund.

Among its efforts in the past year, the DLDF has:

  •  Written an amicus brief in support of playwright Matthew Lombardo whose parody of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas was challenged by the Seuss estate. The court ultimately upheld the playwright’s fair use claim;
  • Co-sponsored the American Library Association’s “Banned Books Week” and participated in it by producing Banned Together, a performance of scenes and songs from challenged theatrical works, presented that week in New York at The Public Theater’s venue, Joe’s Pub, and 16 other cities around the country from Tampa to Seattle;
  • Arranged with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts , attorneys and law firms (in particular, Davis Wright and Tremaine), for the pro bono representation of indigent dramatists dealing with legal issues related to their work, and for other dramatists dealing with issues of free expression, copyright and related matters of public import, including playwright Kevin Broccoli’s play, James Franco and Me, confronted by a “right of publicity” claim by Mr. Franco;
  • Worked with the producer of the International Human Rights Art Festival to find an alternate venue for the festival when NY’s Archbishop Dolan and St. Mary’s church caused its cancellation (72 hours before its advertised presentation) due to the inclusion of two “LBGTQ”-related scenes in the show. The festival went on as scheduled at St. Anne’s in Brooklyn;
  • Co-authored letters with the National Coalition Against Censorship in support of individuals and institutions which have been the targets of attempts to muzzle free speech on both sides of the political aisle;
  • Co-hosted a Continuing Legal Education seminar with Davis Wright & Tremaine, presented to attorneys and playwrights on the subject of “fair use” as it relates to theatrical works;
  • Presented the DLDF’s “Defender Award” to the “Hamilton” company, to recognize their courage in speaking truth to power and demonstrating that a theater is NOT in fact a “safe space”… that it is an unsettling place where we challenge each other, provoke debate and push our democracy forward.

This year, the DLDF will continue these types of efforts and expand them to include growth of the DLDF website, expansion of our CLE class offerings to better inform the legal community on such issues, including the growing conflict between anti-discrimination laws and the First Amendment as it relates to casting in the Theater, and offering Pro Bono legal clinics at the Dramatists Guild national conference next year, for writers confronted with a wide range of issues.

Now, more than ever, it’s time to act.  So join the fight and make a tax-deductible donation to The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund … because words matter.

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