WASHINGTON, D.C.: After briefly threatening to veto it, President Trump today signed a bipartisan federal spending deal that includes a $3 million increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Despite proposals from the Trump Administration to eliminate the NEA, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), each of these agencies and other arts-related initiatives are receiving either level funding or increases.
To wit, for FY18:
- National Endowment for the Arts: $152.8 million ($3 million increase)
- National Endowment for the Humanities: $152.8 million ($3 million increase)
- Assistance for Arts Education: $29 million ($2 million increase)
- Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (supporting a “well-rounded education” in Title IV-A in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act): $1.1 billion ($700 million increase)
- Office of Citizen Exchange within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State: $111.4 million (same as FY17)
- Corporation for Public Broadcasting: $445 million for FY20 (CPB is forward-funded)
Also of note: The Johnson Amendment, a 1954 tax law protecting charitable, religious, and philanthropic organizations from partisan politicking, remains intact in the omnibus spending bill. Several attempts have been made to remove the Johnson Amendment, so it is likely that the fight will continue. More than 60 theatres and Theatre Communications Group have signed onto a Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship. Any 501(c)(3) organization is welcome to join the nearly 5,800 organizations expressing strong support for maintaining the Johnson Amendment.
Despite today’s victories, arts advocates warn that the fight to protect funding for the arts is not over. Already, the Trump Administration has renewed its proposals to eliminate the NEA, NEH, and CPB. The co-chairs of the Congressional Arts Caucus, Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y., who recently died) and Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), sent a letter to appropriators signed by a record 166 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, urging at least $155 million for the NEA in FY19. Continued advocacy is vital; to take action click here.