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An arts advocate in protests against the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate federal funding for cultural agencies. Photo: Democracynow.org.

President Trump Again Proposes Elimination of NEA and NEH

President Donald Trump’s newly released 2019 budget again proposes that the federal government defund the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Trump first revealed that he wanted to zero out funding for the two agencies when his first federal budget plan was released in March of 2017, sparking a nationwide public outcry. Despite his efforts to shut down both the NEA and the NEH last year, they survived, after a bill—which approved their continued funding, but reduced the amount each agency would receive by $5 million—was passed by the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee last July.

Titled “An American Budget: Major Savings and Reforms,” the 189-page document states that the NEA should begin shutting down in 2019 because the administration “does not consider NEA activities to be core Federal responsibilities.” It also notes that there are “non-Federal sources of funding for the humanities.” If the budget is approved, the NEA will be allocated $29 million and the NEH will be granted $42 million so that they can wrap up their operations and fulfill any ongoing grant commitments. Among the other entities in danger are the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

In response, Americans for the Arts president and CEO Robert L. Lynch has already denounced the proposed budget. “With only a $150 million annual appropriation, the NEA’s investment in every congressional district in the country contributes to a $730 billion arts and culture industry in America, representing 4.2 percent of the annual GDP,” he said in a statement. “The nation’s arts and culture industry supports 4.8 million jobs and yields a $26 billion trade surplus for our country. Despite the president’s State of the Union speech proclaiming ‘Americans fill the world with art and music,’ there seems to be a disconnect on the need to invest in our nation’s future support of the arts and arts education. The federal investment in the arts helps power the creative economy across the country.”

He added, “Americans for the Arts stands ready to fight for the arts on a bipartisan basis with the 95,000 nonprofit arts organizations across the United States, with the hundreds of arts advocates who will come to Washington, DC, on March 13, 2018, for the thirty-first annual Arts Advocacy Day, the business community, and the hundreds of thousands of arts advocates that are part of the Arts Action Fund. We work with numerous partners from across the spectrum to make the case for federal funding and the federal role of the agencies in fostering investment, spurring job-related growth, expanding educational opportunities, and providing for the preservation of our heritage.” 

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