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Arts Patron Slaughter Racks Up Another Award

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) may have to add a new shelf to her awards cabinet. The microbiologist with a master’s degree in public health has won a plethora of awards ranging from the American Public Health Association’s Distinguished Public Legislator Award to the Award for Outstanding Arts Leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives. And last month she added yet another arts award.

“The Congresswoman just fit the categories across the board,” said Women in Film and Video Executive Director Jennifer Nycz-Conner, whose organization named Slaughter a “Woman of Vision” at its 11th annual award ceremony May 21.

WIFV President Shellee Haynesworth described the typical recipient of the group’s most prestigious award as “both a leader and mentor to those around her. She charts new territory, but leaves behind a map for others to follow.” So it was easy to see why Slaughter once again will be in the limelight for her contributions.

Slaughter, co-chairwoman of the Congressional Arts Caucus for the past 10 years, is well-known among her colleagues as a staunch supporter of the arts. She demonstrated an unrelenting and successful pursuit in Congress last year for a $10 million dollar increase for the National Endowment of the Arts budget as well as a $5 million dollar increase for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“Representative Slaughter is the epitome of a leader who stands up for what she believes in. She campaigned strongly for the NEA and NEH to make sure the appropriate funding was available,” Nycz-Conner said.

Slaughter was one of four women to receive the award. The black-tie extravaganza served as a launching pad for WIFV’s 25th anniversary celebration, a six-month program series highlighting the organization’s quarter-century of service.

The 450-500 people in attendance were treated to the usual Washingtonian palette of the finest wines and most decadent dining. In addition, a silent auction featured such prizes as an exclusive chance to meet the cast of NBC’s hit show “The West Wing” as they film on location in the D.C. area. Yet, despite the ever-present political banter of any event held near Capitol Hill, the tone remained whimsical, light — and sincere.

“I am delighted to accept the Women of Vision Award,” said Slaughter. “Women in Film and Video plays a critical role in promoting the careers of women in the film industry. I am deeply honored to have been chosen for this significant award.” Previous award winners have included Kathy Bates, Tipper Gore, Sharon Stone, Roseanne Barr, Mary Steenburgen and Cecily Tyson.

As one of the most senior female Members of Congress, Slaughter has been a longtime arts advocate. However she feels there is still work to be done.

“Although the NEA is no longer threatened with elimination, we are nowhere near the pre-1994 funding levels,” she said. “Programs funded by the NEA and the NEH enrich our society and contribute millions of dollars in revenues to our economies. As always, I will work with my colleagues this year to continue to increase funding for the arts in the [fiscal 2005] budget.”

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