NEA Funding May Hit 15-Year High; Will This Imperil New Models?



The Obama Administration has released its numbers — well, proposed numbers — for the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2010 fiscal year budget. If you believe, as most people do, that the higher the NEA funding is, the better the arts will be across the nation, this is a moment to cheer. If you believe, as I do, that it is the also responsibility of the arts in this difficult economic moment to seriously investigate new economic models (as Scott Walters often does, though it would help if he’d update his blogroll to reflect the new but two months old URL of the Clyde Fitch Report), this is a moment in which more-of-the-same is a clear and present danger.

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Here is a press release from Americans for the Arts reacting to the Administration’s proposal:

Americans for the Arts Responds to Administration’s FY 2010 Arts and Culture Funding Recommendations

Budget Request Takes NEA to Highest Level in 15 Years

Washington, DC – May 7, 2009 – Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch gave the following statement on the release of the Obama Administration’s budget for FY 2010:

“As the White House works to jump start the economy and re-prioritize the nation’s domestic spending initiatives, the Administration’s FY 2010 budget proposal to increase support for the National Endowment for the Arts provides another encouraging nod of confidence in the role the arts play in America’s future. The Administration’s request of $161 million would take the NEA to its highest funding level in 15 years and will help continue the upward trend of budgetary growth that Congress established several years ago. In contrast to the previous Administration, this year’s budget includes funding for the Arts in Education program at the Department of Education at $38.16 million. We hope that Congress will build on these initial budget requests to secure even higher funding levels to address the needs of the arts and arts education community.

“During his first 100 days in office, President Obama took a series of actions to secure his strong position on the arts. In February, he signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which allocated $50 million for job recovery programs through the NEA. In March, passage of the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill provided a $10 million increase to the NEA, and the Serve America Act was reauthorized to now provide added support for artists to take part in national service programs. In April, it was announced that Kal Penn will serve as White House public liaison for arts and culture issues marking a major milestone as this is the first-time such a position has been designated in the Executive Office. These actions are firmly in-line with the arts platform Obama developed during the campaign.

“During the campaign, President Obama set an ambitious agenda, including a pledge to ‘to use the bully pulpit…to promote the importance of arts and arts education in America.’ We applaud the Administration and Congressional leaders who continue to recognize and firmly support the essential contribution of the arts to the growth of our economy and health and vitality of our communities.”

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. With offices in Washington, DC, and New York City, it has a record of 49 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at