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White House Budget Proposes Slashing Critical NEA Arts Funding
The National Endowment for the Arts would be on its way to being eliminated under the proposed budget released by the White House on Feb. 12 for fiscal year 2019. In a trade-off between expenditures meant to stimulate the economy and long-term cuts, it would be destined along with 20 others for the chopping block.
The details tell a distressing story of vast reductions meant to wind arts funding down. In the case of the NEA this would reduce its $150 million 2018 budget to $29 million in order to "begin shutting down."
From music lessons and local festivals to advanced media projects, and throughout nearly all 435 congressional districts, the funds from NEA grants and programs have supported the talent and spirit that makes U.S. intellectual property one of our greatest national assets, with a trade surplus. NEA Chairman Jane Chu said she "cannot engage in advocacy, either directly or indirectly," however she also said the agency plays a "vital role in serving our nation's communities." We are the ones able to engage in advocacy to preserve that vital role.
At only a few cents per capita, the NEA supports a $730 billion industry that accounts for 4.2 percent of the annual GDP and 4.8 million jobs. In the music industry, the NEA has supported $423.8 million in funding to a wide variety of domestic music programs.
Fortunately, administration-proposed budgets do not simply pass into law and, as many members of the music community will remember, this is the second year that this White House has expressed its disregard for the arts in its initial statement of priorities. Last year's budget proposal also called for the elimination of NEA funding, but thanks in part to the efforts of Recording Academy members lobbying in support of continued NEA funding at events such as GRAMMYs On The Hill 2017 and the role Congress played in defending funding, not only was the funding rescued but the NEA budget was increased by $2 million. An equally fervor will be required from the music community to ensure America continues to support music and the arts.
"The proposal from the White House this week to eliminate the NEA — like that before it — will be defeated by the voices of Americans who believe in American culture," said Recording Academy Chief Industry, Government & Member Relations Officer Daryl P. Friedman. "The Recording Academy is confident that our Congressional champions will fight to protect and preserve the agency. We will ask Congress to maintain funding for the NEA and ensure that we remain steadfast in our commitment to the arts and to the American creator."
Although last year's budget drama had a happy ending, protection for arts funding demands vigilance, for example at GRAMMYs On The Hill or "The Fight For The Arts: Congress' Crucial Year-End Funding Decision" a few weeks ago. Now the fight is upon us and this is the critical time to be outspoken on behalf of the arts, its place in American life and the need to keep funding to sustain it in place.