Yo-Yo Ma

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma spoke about the importance of the arts on Arts Advocacy Day in Washington on Monday. (Paul Morigi / Getty Images / April 9, 2013)

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma was in Washington this week to press for an increase in arts funding from the federal government. The musician was joined by former Guns N' Roses drummer Matt Sorum, and they performed together briefly for an audience on Capitol Hill.

Ma was in Washington for Arts Advocacy Day -- an annual event that took place Monday and Tuesday. The event is intended to boost awareness and government funding for the arts sector. The nonprofit advocacy group Americans for the Arts is the key organizer and hosted a Google Hangout discussion that featured Ma answering questions from the public.

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For fiscal 2012, the National Endowment for the Arts received appropriations of approximately $146 million, but lost some of that due to budget cuts. Funding for the grant-making organization has decreased steadily in recent years.

Americans for the Arts wants funding for the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities to be restored to $155 million each per year.

Ma also delivered the annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy. An online video of the speech includes appearances by dancer Lil Buck, bagpiper Cristina Pato and MusiCorps Band members.

Last year's Arts Advocacy Day featured actor Alec Baldwin delivering the annual lecture. In 2011, actor Kevin Spacey was chosen to give the lecture.

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