March 23, 2018; Washington Post
As NPQ reported earlier this year, President Trump continues to make noise about “shutting down” federal agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). But broad public understanding of and support for the these national entities—which in turn fund state and regional entities and often serve as catalysts for contributions from other sources—has once again resulted in the continuation of arts funding. The federal spending bill passed last week by Congress and signed by Trump provides modest increases in funding for the arts and humanities.
This is the second budgeting cycle in which Trump tried to reduce arts funding, but instead signed off on bigger budgets. Three agencies saw their funding increased, while one received level funding:
- The NEA and NEH each will receive $152.8 million, an increase of $3 million for each agency.
- The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will receive $240 million, an increase of $9 million.
- The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) will maintain its current level of funding at $465 million.
In addition to these federal agencies, the budget bill included funding for Washington, DC-based national arts and culture institutions like the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art and the Kennedy Center.
A statement from Americans for the Arts president and CEO Robert Lynch noted, “I am very pleased that members of Congress have decided to invest more funding into the arts—this support from both parties is a testament that the arts are bipartisan.”
Lynch also addressed the “unified, tireless, persistent work of the arts community and grass-roots advocates” for speaking up on behalf of these federal agencies and the impact of their work. And the agencies themselves, as well as local affiliates, in recent days have been offering thanks to the grassroots networks that rallied around them, as well as to members of Congress.
NPQ readers might want to chime in now with thanks to elected officials for their continued support of the arts and humanities, because it’s only a matter of time until the budget ax will once again be hovering over these agencies, which do so much good clear across the country, in every conceivable type of community, working with—it must be said again—the merest fraction of a fraction of the overall federal budget.—Eileen Cunniffe