According to Variety, President Bush’s new proposed budget slashes federal funding for public broadcasting by more than 50 percent and possibly prepares for defunding it entirely.
The Bush budget lists no advance appropriation for fiscal 2011, and it also denies pubcasting any additional funding to assist in the transition from analog to digital broadcasting.
The proposed cuts were no surprise given that the administration has tried to defund pubcasting for the last eight years. Congress has always rejected the cuts and restored the money, and it is expected to do so again.
In “No Tote Bag for President Bush,” the Los Angeles Times reports that Corporation for Public Broadcasting president Patricia Harrison called the proposed reductions “draconian.”
The federal funds make up about 16% of a local station’s budget, on average. However, some small stations in rural communities depend on the money to operate and could be forced to shut down if the cuts are approved, she said.
“What the cuts do is hit those stations least able to continue,” Harrison said.
Public broadcasting advocates were taken aback by the scale of the cuts but are optimistic Congress will restore the funding.
At the same time, Dana Gioia talks to the Wall Street Journal about why the National Endowment for the Arts, which he runs, has had “its biggest budget boost in nearly three decades, a $20.3 million increase to $144.7 million for fiscal 2008.”
“My objective has been to insist that there are things in our society that are neither right nor left,” Mr. Gioia says. “What I sought to do was to take arts and arts education out of the divisive and destructive rhetoric of the culture wars.”
The NEA was, for a while, a prime battleground. In late 1980s and ’90s, after a handful of grants to controversial avant-garde artists such as Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe, the endowment found itself under assault from conservatives seeking its abolition. With its budget peaking at $176 million in 1992, it remains smaller than in its heyday.
But Mr. Gioia’s NEA is distinguished by its ambition. Using both public and private partnerships to bolster its impact, it now reaches schoolchildren, military families, and cultural organizations in every U.S. congressional district.