House GOP: Eliminate National Endowment for the Arts


Today’s big, but not surprising news:

The GOP majority in the House of Representative proposes to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts. Read the story in US News and World Report.

Story continues below.

Also on the chopping block, among other items: $445 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; $25 million to Save America’s Treasures Program; $167.5 million to the National Endowment for the Humanities; $1.565 billion to Amtrak; $7.5 billion in federal travel; $250 million in economic assistance to Egypt; $210 million in subsidies to the District of Columbia; $15 billion in savings by selling off as-yet-unspecific federal properties.

If you’ve been remotely conscious for the last two years, you’ll recall the Clyde Fitch Report warned, explicitly, that the NEA could be gone if the GOP captured a majority in either chamber of Congress.

Well, here we are. Just to recap:

I posited this possibility in November of 2010.

And alluded to it in July of 2010.

And in April of 2010 — with massive belt-tightening going on the U.K. regarding public arts funding, in light of the British left’s nonstarter “manifesto” for arts funding, and in light of a study, called Arts Funding: A New Approach, from the Adam Smith Institute — I asked the following questions:

If and when Republicans wrest control of Congress and start looking for budget lines to slash, how do we imagine arts funding will fare? I would argue that Arts Funding: A New Approach is as much a road-map for American conservatives, and the American left ought to start thinking about what the consequences of that might be.

…Can a time of true fiscal belt-tightening ever arrive in Washington, D.C. (not to mention most state capitals) without bringing along with it a stark, wholesale reconsideration of our public arts-funding system – and the nonprofit business model itself?

And on Oct. 1, 2009, in a CFR post, I wrote the following:

…the elimination of the NEA – and the demonization of American artists – is rising fast on the GOP agenda. So I ask you: To what degree are artists, arts advocates and arts organizations prepared for the fight when it comes?

Can’t say the field wasn’t warned.

The question is: What is the field going to do about it? After all, it has had a lot of time to plan.