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NEA and NEH Budgets Get Cut Back

by Jerome Weeks 14 Apr 2011 11:09 AM

Yesterday, we learned that NPR and PBS survived the federal budget compromise. Today we learn the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are taking hits.


Yesterday, as you surely recall, we learned that NPR and PBS survived pretty much unscathed from the recent federal budget compromise.

But today we learn from the LATimes that the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services will have to rein in their grants between now and Sept. 30 when this budget year ends  — in the biggest federal budget cut in history, they took a hit of 11.2 percent.  Of course, past Sept. 30 is anyone’s guess.

As for their spending in the coming fiscal year, that will depend on a budgeting process that is expected to turn into a titanic battle between Republicans who are calling for massive cuts and no tax increases,  and the Obama administration and its Democratic allies in congress, who want a combination of cuts and higher tax payments for high-income earners. The NEA and NEH each will take a $12.5-million cut this year, from $167.5 million to $155 million -– a 7.5% reduction. Spending at the IMLS will decrease from $282.2 million to $237.9 million, a drop of 15.7%. . . .

The advocacy group Americans for the Arts issued a statement Tuesday saying it was “heartened” that cuts to the NEA and NEH were “more sensible and proportional” than the 26% reduction that House Republicans passed earlier this year, but which the Democratic-controlled Senate did not OK. Also, Americans for the Arts noted, an “Art in Education” program that had been in danger of elimination has survived, albeit with its budget reduced from $40 million to $25.5 million. While acknowledging current constraints, the group said, “the nation would be better with a more robust investment in nonprofit arts” than what’s left following the cuts.