One of the smallest items in President Obama and the Democratic Congress’ $825 billion economic stimulus is an additional $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. That’s 6/100,000 of 1 percent of the package that passed the House Appropriations Committee last week. Still, the money would increase federal spending on the NEA, which has been falling for years, by a third.
Yesterday, The New York Times reported that the additional funding would be distributed “directly to nonprofit arts organizations and also through state and local arts agencies.”
The bill is expected to go to the full House for a vote on Wednesday before proceeding to the Senate. It could reach the president’s desk as early as mid-February, an N.E.A. spokeswoman said.
As Jerome reported today, arts leaders have called for arts organizations to be included in other parts of the president’s economic recovery strategy. After all, these groups employ workers and are suffering in the current crisis just like other industries. The Times quotes Americans for the Arts president Robert L. Lynch:
Arts groups, meanwhile, are urging federal departments like Transportation or Labor to factor culture into their financing. A transportation enhancement program, for example, could pay artists for related public artworks; through the Labor Department displaced arts professionals could receive new training to stay in the work force. “Every one of these places is a vehicle through which the money is going to flow, and we want to make sure the arts is part of it,” Mr. Lynch said.
Read the full Times story here.