Here we go again: as federal budget negotiations are under way for Fiscal Year 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts is once again facing a cut.
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee approved an increase in the overall budget of federal cultural agencies, which also includes the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Gallery of Art. Yet tucked into that budget is an $8-million reduction in the NEA’s appropriation, from the $146 million it received for the past two years to $138 million. The 5-percent reduction would return the NEA to pre-2008 funding levels.
In a slight change of procedure, the House and Senate reached an agreement on total federal spending in advance. Usually the House proposes a budget for each organization (usually a reduction) and the Senate makes its proposals (usually higher) and the two hash it out in a joint committee. The House and Senate will continue to negotiate through the summer.
The NEA is asking for $155 million for FY 2015 (which mean it hopes to end up at its current level). The NEH budget figures are the same as the NEA’s, the Kennedy Center is facing a slight reduction, $34.4 to $32.8 million, and the Holocaust Museum would stay the same.
The proposed budget is good news for the Smithsonian, which would go from $805 million to $813.4 million, and the National Gallery, which would see an additional $4 million added to its current budget of $133 million.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) opposed the cuts, as did Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), who cited the positive impact the creative economy has had in Maine.
The state is proposing a 1.7-percent increase in its budget for FY 2015, from 586,466 to $596,713. According to the National Association of State Arts Agencies, even with the increase, Georgia ranks 50thin per capita arts spending at six cents per person. Kansas, which eviscerated its arts agency, places 49th at seven cents a head, which comes from the NEA’s minimum allotment of $200,000.
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