Wednesday, 26 July, 2017

President Trump's Budget Would Eliminate National Endowment for the Arts

Edmund Wade | 18 March, 2017, 00:55

Sofia Klatzker, executive director of Arts for LA, said that though arts organizations may get only a small part of their funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, they generally leverage that funding many times over.

Elaine Carroll, CEO of New Haven Symphony Orchestra, which receives $20,000 to $25,000 annually from federal agencies, said "the NEA has unfortunately been on the chopping block and it always survives". The Seattle Art Museum also receives regular NEA funding for some of its marquee exhibitions.

In total, the cuts would remove $971 from the national budget, to increase spending on other agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection, Department of Defense and Homeland Security.

"I don't think it's going to happen, but it could", he said. He said that the endowment has a "vigorous" vetting process for sorting potential grantees and noted that projects can use a grant from the NEH to raise funding elsewhere. A significant portion of the NEA awards went to projects targetted at youth, community outreach, or rural touring programs. The organization's last NEA grant was $10,000 for a community leadership program. NEA funds serve as a sort of "seal of approval" for potential donors. But the support goes beyond money, said Museum Director Kimerly Rohrshack.

Montana, for example, offers "Standing Together", a literature reading and discussion program for military veterans. Sidney Ellington, the executive director of the program, told TPM that an NEH grant now comprises about 10 percent of the program's total operating budget.

"We owe a lot of our success to the funding that's been provided by the NEH", Ellington said.

The endowments were created when legislation was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 and this is the first time a president has proposed getting rid of them. Most advocates were cautiously optimistic that Congress would push back on Trump's ask. Because who needs any kind of culture anyway, right?

He added that during a recent humanities advocacy day on Capitol Hill, his group spoke with congressional staffers mostly from the Republican caucus.

"Ninety percent of our funding comes from the NEH".

According to Stringer's analysis, cultural organizations in New York City received $233 million in NEA funding between 2000 and 2016, including $21 million for organizations specifically providing arts education. "For us to have that kind of stamp of approval has been incredible in the growth of this company". "And now I believe we are better organized as a sector, more willing and able to be involved politically as a national sector".

Other arts leaders expressed cautious optimism, citing bipartisan opposition to the agencies' elimination and the past resilience of federal arts funding.

The NEA released the following statement; "Today we learned that the President's FY 2018 budget blueprint proposes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts".

"The reality is that, the slice of the federal budget the NEA takes up is teeny tiny", Ms. Wicks tells the Monitor.

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