Congressional Proposal would reduce NEA funding by $71 million

ArtServe Michigan, a statewide nonprofit advocate of the arts, reports on recent Congressional cuts to the NEA:

The halls of the U.S. Capitol emptied this week as lawmakers packed up their bags and headed home for a month-long August break, leaving critical issues important to arts advocates unaddressed.

As we shared last week, a U.S. House Subcommittee sent shockwaves through the creative community when they passed an FY 2014 Interior Appropriations bill that included devastating cuts to essential arts programs, including a 49% cut to both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This proposal would reduce funding for each program by an alarming $71 million and would result in the largest cut to these vital programs in history, a budget level not seen since 1974. If passed in this current form, Americans for the Arts projects “about half as many direct grants will be made to arts organizations across the country, support for state arts agencies would have to be cut in half and the impact on arts organizations would be even broader as each dollar from an NEA grant helps to leverage at least $8 from other state, local and private resources.” Cuts would also be felt by the Smithsonian Institution with a reduction of $155 million and the National Gallery of Art which would see a loss of $104 million, a 19% cut for each landmark establishment.

This week, this legislation was brought before the full U.S. Appropriations Committee for consideration. Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and David Price (D-NC) tried to mitigate the damage by offering an amendment to restore the NEA funds but the amendment was defeated along a party-line vote of 19-27. An official vote on the FY 2014 Interior Appropriations bill came to a grinding halt when tempers flared and it became evident that the measure lacked support.

So what happens next?
Today, Congressional members are finishing meetings, packing their bags and returning back to their home districts for a scheduled five week recess, putting the appropriations process on hold until their September 9th return. Time to negotiate a resolution is rapidly dwindling as the fiscal year is set to expire on September 30th, just two weeks after lawmakers return to Washington D.C. With the House and Senate so far apart on a broad variety of bills, it appears unlikely that a compromise will be reached in that short time period. Some maintain that the most likely outcome may be a “continuing resolution” that would maintain the current NEA funding level into next year.

As the ever evolving appropriations process continues, ArtServe Michigan will be closely monitoring this legislation and will provide you with all the latest information. Please feel free to contact Sarah Triplett, Director of Public Policy, if you have any questions or concerns via email at sarah@artservemichigan.org or by phone at (517) 599-7784. More information is also available from Americans for the Arts through their ARTSblog.

What can you do?
Thanks to those of you who have already taken the time to call on Congress to restore these cuts. If you haven’t had a chance to speak out yet, or if you have already gotten involved and want to do more, here are a few ways to make a difference today:

Email – Contact your member of Congress by using this one-stop action alert center. Use the template provided or craft your own message. Click here to send an email.

Letter to the Editor – Call on Congress to reject unprecedented cuts to the arts and humanities and inform members of your community by submitting a Letter to the Editor. Use this powerful media tool to connect to your local paper in just a few easy steps. Click here to send a Letter to the Editor.

Social Media – Ask friends and family who follow you on Facebook or Twitter to join you in sending a quick letter to Congress. Here are a few sample messages to get you started: