UPDATE: Today, March 3, Congress voted to pass the Appropriations bill that adds $2 million each to the NEA and NEH budgets. The Trump Administration is still calling for the agencies’ elimination in FY 2018.
In March, it became evident that President Trump’s call for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting might not go his way when Republican lawmakers came out in support of the agencies, including Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins and Representatives Mark Amodei and Leonard Lance, as well as former Arkansas Governor and 2016 Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee.
In the early morning hours today, an Omnibus Appropriations bill was introduced in order to prevent the government from shutting down while negotiations for the FY2017 budget is still under way. Included in that bill is an actual increase for the NEA and NEH from $148 million to $150 million each, while the CPB would remain the same, at $445 million. A House vote is scheduled for Wednesday, which will be followed by a Senate vote, and then possibly a joint committee resolution. The budget was to have been completed last Fall when the fiscal year first began.
For the current fiscal year, the Trump Administration would like Congress to immediately cut $15 million from the NEA and NEH apiece, and it is still pushing for the elimination of the agencies for FY2018.
The all-time budget high for the NEA was 174,459,382 in 1993. During the “Culture Wars” of the 1990s, it was slashed to $99 million and then $97 million between 1996 and 2000.
The language in the bill commends the NEA for its Healing Arts Partnership program with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital that supports the expansion of this program to assist service members and their families in their recovery, reintegration, and transition to civilian life. It also urge state arts agencies, which receive funding from the NEA, to explore providing arts therapy programs to service members and their families at the local level.
The proposed arts budgets are part of a $1 trillion-plus spending bill that would fund most government operations through September, the end of FY2017. Among other things, the Omnibus bill provides a $25 billion-increase for national defense and a $1.5 billion down payment on measures to bolster border security.
According to a recent study by the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, a significant majority of adults in the United States—63 percent—oppose eliminating federal funding for arts and culture. Among the study’s key findings:
+ 37 percent of respondents “strongly disagree” with President Trump’s proposal to eliminate federal funding for arts and culture. Eight percent of adults “strongly agree” with his proposal.
+ Of those opposed to Trump’s proposal, 41 percent favor increasing government spending on arts and culture. 14 percent favor reducing the current level of government spending on arts and culture.
+ Overall, 82 percent of U.S. adults have an opinion about Trump’s proposal to eliminate federal funding for arts and culture. These adults report significantly higher rates of disagreement with Trump’s proposal within each region of the United States.
Click here to read the report.