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Funding the National Endowment for the Arts

Background

For 50 years, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has provided strategic leadership and investment in the arts through its core programs for dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, local arts agencies, media arts, multidisciplinary arts, music, theater, visual arts, and other programs. Among the proudest accomplishments of the NEA is the growth of arts activity in areas of the nation that were previously underserved or not served at all, especially in rural and inner-city communities. Americans can now see professional productions and exhibitions of high quality in their own hometowns.

A unique combination of private and public funding and box office receipts come together to support the nonprofit performing arts. A critical source of federal support for performing arts organizations around the country comes from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Through direct grants and support to state arts agencies, the NEA awards more than 2,200 grants each year to nonprofit performing arts organizations for projects that encourage artistic creativity. Every congressional district has  received the benefit of an NEA grant.

Despite overwhelming support by the American public for spending federal tax dollars in support of the arts, the NEA has never recovered from a 40% budget cut in the mid-nineties and its programs are seriously underfunded. The Performing Arts Alliance (PAA) and other arts advocates work hard each year to strengthen support for the NEA in Congress.

See the 2015 NEA Issue Brief for background information and talking points about What’s At Stake.

What We're Asking For

We urge Congress to:

Support a budget of $155M for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in the FY 2016 Interior Appropriations bill to preserve citizen access to the cultural, educational, and economic benefits of the arts and to advance creativity and innovation in communities across the United States.

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Recent Activity

NEA Appropriations Update

The House resumed floor consideration of the FY16 Interior Bill on July 7 after the Independence Day recess. This bill contains the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Representatives began debating the bill at the end of June but had not discussed the cultural agencies before the break. Both the House Interior Subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee approved $146 million for the NEA–level funding with last year. Many of you took action for the arts and asked your Representative to preserve this amount and vote against any amendments to the Interior bill that could reduce it. 

Floor consideration was stalled and the bill was pulled from the House floor after controversy surrounding a vote about the confederate flag being displayed on cemeteries on federal land.  In the Senate, an Interior Bill has not yet been sent to the floor for debate, however both the Interior Subcommittee and full Appropriations Committee approved $146 million for the NEA in FY16.

House & Senate Bills Approve $146M for NEA

The NEA appropriations process kicked off on June 10 when the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies met to discuss its FY16 spending bill. This bill contains funding for the NEA. Thus far, both the Interior Appropriations Subcommittees and full Appropriations Committees in both the House and Senate have recommended $146 million for the NEA. This is the same amount the agency has received in the last four years and is almost $2 million less than the President’s FY16 request. Timeline of events:

  • June 10: House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee debated the spending bill and approved $146 million for the NEA
  • June 16: the full House Appropriations Committee approved the spending bill with the same amount approved by the Subcommittee
  • June 16: the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee debated its version of the bill and also approved $146 million for the NEA
  • June 18: the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Interior spending bill with the same amount approved by the Subcommittee The next step in the process is for the full Senate and full House to debate their respective Interior spending bills. Both Chambers of Congress are aiming to finish appropriations before the July 4th recess.

PAA advocates for $155 million for the NEA. We ask for this amount because although the NEA has been funded at $146 million for the past four years, previously, both the President and the Senate Appropriations Committee have supported $155 million, most recently in FY11.

NEA Appropriations Underway

Both the House and Senate are considering their FY16 Interior Appropriations bills which contain recommendations for the NEA’s budget for the next fiscal year. On June 10, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee approved $146 million for the NEA. The full House will vote on the bill on Tuesday June 14 at 10:15am. Click here to write your representative and ask for $155M for the NEA!

The Senate Interior Appropriations Committee is set to consider its FY16 appropriations bill on Tuesday, June 14 at 2:30pm. If you live in California, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, you have a senator that serves on this committee. Write your Senator today and ask for $155M for the NEA in FY16!

President Obama Releases His FY16 Budget

The Obama Administration released its budget request for FY 2016. It requested $148 million for the NEA, an increase of almost $2 million.

NEA Receives Level Funding for FY15

Congress passed two additional short-term continuing resolutions to provide a few extra days for final passage of the “CRomnibus” appropriations bill for FY15. On December 16, The President signed the CRomnibus–the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015–into law. It continues level funding at $146 million for the NEA and NEH through September 30, 2015.

Congress Avoids Partial Government Shutdown

Having failed to pass any appropriations bills, Congress passed a continuing resolution extending federal funding until December 11 and avoiding a partial government shutdown. The President enacted the resolution.

Senate Appropriators Recommend Increase for NEA

The Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee releases its FY 2015 draft bill, which includes $150 million each for the NEA and NEH. No further action on the Senate bill occurs.

NEA Funding Restored in the House

On July 9, The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee approved a funding cut for the NEA which would reduce its budget from $146 million to $138 million. Although not the 49% cut appropriators proposed for the agency last year, this decrease–$8 million–was touted in the committee press release.

The full House Appropriations Committee met mid-July and restored the $8 million cut suggested by the Subcommittee. The budget was restored via an amendment by Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) that was included within Chairman Calvert’s manager’s amendment. No further House action occured.

Arts Leaders Testify on Behalf of NEA

The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee held a Public and Outside Witness hearing on the FY 2015 budget request. Pamela Hogan, Executive Director of Kids Rock Free School of Music at the Fender® Center for the Performing Arts in Corona, CA, testified on behalf of Americans for the Arts. She was joined by others including representatives from National Humanities Alliance, Federation of State Humanities Councils, and American Alliance of Museums supporting funding for the NEA and NEH.

Level Funding for NEA in President’s Budget

The Obama Administration proposed level funding for the NEA at $146 million, which is less than the President’s proposals from the previous two years and less than the previous funding proposals in the U.S. Senate. NEA’s “Our Town” program was reduced by more than half–to $4.75 million from the previous year’s request of $10 million.  

FY14 Budget Victory for the NEA

On Friday, January 17, President Obama signed into law the $1.1 trillion spending package passed a few days prior by the House and Senate. Lawmakers reached a deal on this spending package in December 2013. The spending bill allocates $146,021,000 to the NEA for FY14 which restores its budget to near-FY12 funding levels. This is nearly double the $75,000,000 the House proposed for FY14 in its Interior bill over the summer. Due to your advocacy efforts, the NEA’s budget has recovered from the 5% cut it received in the FY13 sequester.

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Archive

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