Budget Bill Would Increase Funding for National Endowment for the Arts

The Congressional budget plan agreed upon this week by both Republican and Democratic legislators retains funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and increases the budgets of both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, agencies that President Donald Trump planned to eliminate in his own budget proposal this year.

The proposed spending bill — which would fund the government through September 30 and which the president is expected to sign later this week — provides $445 million in funds to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the same amount of money the agency received in 2017. The CPB helps support the public television station PBS and radio network NPR.

Additionally, the budget proposal would increase the budgets of both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities by $2 million each, bringing their respective budgets to $150 million in total.

Artists and groups that had lobbied heavily in defense of the agencies celebrated news of the budget agreement this week, including Brad Erickson, a board member of Californians for the Arts.

“I have to think that all the advocacy is what made the difference,” Erickson told local PBS affiliate KQED. “More than 700 people lobbied in Washington this year, and staff for members of Congress said they got an astounding amount of emails and letters supporting funding for the arts.”

The art and film worlds reacted with shock and fear in March when Trump’s own budget plan proposed to strip all funding from the CPB, the NEA, the NEH, and a number of other arts-related agencies, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 but funding for the agency has grown controversial over the intervening decades, as critics have said that taxpayers should not be forced to contribute to art projects that go against their values, or are obscene.

In a statement, Creative Coalition president and actor Tim Daly praised Congressional leaders for “defending the Right to Bear Arts.”

“Increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts will allow more people to exercise that muscle and develop the creative thinking skills necessary to foster the next generation of American ingenuity and innovation,” he said.

 

Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum


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