US Arts Funding fears illustrated in Trump budget plan

The Washington Post reveals that US President Donald Trump’s first budget plan includes the intention to eliminate four longstanding cultural agencies that would ‘radically reshape the nation’s cultural infrastructure’. Confirming fears expressed by arts policy watchers, outlined in the last edition of NiTRO, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) are in the firing line for budget excision. The current federal allocation is: NEA -US$148 million: NEH- US$148 million; CPB US$445 million; and Institute of Museum and Library Services - US$ 230 million. The Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art could also be hit by additional cuts.

The Washington Post points out that although the federal funding for these organisation is comparatively small, it provides for extensive additional funding leverage from the private and philanthropic sector. It reports: ‘Last year, the NEA sent $47 million to 50 states and five jurisdictions, funds that helped to leverage $368 million from state governments. Together, those funds were distributed through 24,000 grants, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA)'

“Those state grants are crucial to arts organizations, including those that help young actors get their first roles and young writers develop their voices” said Edgar Dobie, executive director of Washington’s Arena Stage. “It’s the R&D the field needs,” Dobie said. “It’s so shortsighted to say it’s not as important as a new helicopter.”’

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