Lawmakers Threaten to Ax 1 of every 2 NEA Grants in 2014

Thu, 08/01/2013 - 10:28am

Via our partners Californians for the Arts and Americans for the Arts:

Photo: Interior Appropriations CommitteeAs reported earlier, the United States House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Committee ignored President Obama's recommendation to fund the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities with $156 million each, instead putting forward a budget recommendation to cut these agencies' budgets by 49%.

For arts organizations and artists, this means the NEA would be forced to reduce its local grantmaking by half, cutting one of every two grants awarded to communities around the United States.  NEA grants fund arts-related programs and projects in a variety of disciplines and are an important part of preserving jobs at nonprofit organizations nationwide.  And since NEA grants require private matching funds on a 1:1 ratio, they also ensure all of the awards represent a public-private partnership supported by the communities in which the programs occur.

The proposed cuts follow three years of reduction for the NEA, which has experienced a loss of $29 million over the last three years, including a five percent reduction as a consequence of the Sequester.  The President's proposed funding level indicates his interest in restoring arts funding as part of an overall strategy to improve economies at the local level.

The Interior Appropriations Committee heard spirited debate over the NEA and NEH allocations earlier this week.  While all agencies in the Department of the Interior face cuts of 19%, the NEA and NEH cuts are broader and disproportionate.  Several amendments to the budget were proposed by committee members, including an amendment to increase NEA and NEH funding to the President's recommended levels.  Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated by a vote representing the political party afilliations of the committee members.

With the US Congress in recess for the month of August, further discussion fo the bill won't occur until September.  In the meantime, advocates can take action by sending a letter to elected officals underscoring the importance of arts and culture funding in our communities.

Some reporting included in this article was drawn from Narric Rome's blog post for Americans for the Arts.  Photo courtesy Americans for the Arts.