May 26, 2017; The Art Newspaper
Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) survived President Trump’s first attempt at its elimination. In fact, Congress tossed in an extra $2 million for the current fiscal year when it passed a bipartisan agreement last month to keep the federal government operating through September. But the new NEA budget of $150 million—a miniscule fraction of the $4.147 trillion total federal tab—will be at risk again when the 2018 numbers are crunched. Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate 80 percent of NEA funding to “begin shutting down” this staggeringly small U.S. investment in the arts. To understand the ripple effects this disinvestment might have, consider Fergus Falls, Minnesota, population 13,000.
In 2011, Fergus Falls received its first NEA grant, a modest $25,000, which was enough to launch a multi-year cultural project, with the help of St. Paul-based Springboard for the Arts. Importantly, the NEA grant helped to attract additional funding, much of it from private foundations, to the tune of $1.2 million; and the success of the work that