image collage
A collage of images taken by Jane
Marie Butler during her artist
residency in the Anacostia
neighborhood of Washington, DC

The Issue: National Endowment for the Arts - Funding for Arts Agencies

America’s arts infrastructure, supported by a combination of government, business, foundation, and individual donors, is critical to the nation’s well-being and economic vitality.

For over 50 years, the NEA has provided strategic leadership and investment in the arts through its core programs for dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, local arts agencies, media arts, multidisciplinary arts, music, theater, visual arts, and others. Thanks to the NEA, arts activity has grown in areas of the nation that were previously underserved or not served at all, especially in rural and inner-city communities.

In a striking example of federal/state partnership, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) distributes 40 percent of its program dollars to state arts agencies, with each state devoting its own appropriated funds to support arts programs throughout the state. These grants, combined with state legislative appropriations and other dollars, are distributed widely to strengthen arts infrastructures and ensure broad access to the arts.

Congress funded the NEA in FY 2016 at a level of $148 million, a nearly $2 million increase from last year! Current funding still amounts to just 46 cents per capita, as compared to 70 cents per capita in 1992.

The Obama administration has requested another slight increase to $149.8 million for FY 2017. The nonprofit arts community is again pressing for increased funding to support a healthy arts sector in communities nationwide. Final funding decisions are anticipated following the November 2016 elections.

National Endowment for the Arts logoFocus Foward Towards Solutions

Be a part of advocacy efforts to keep NEA funding strong to enable continued funding for the arts across America.

  1. Find more details, including talking points to advocate for NEA funding, in the NEA Issue Brief in the 2016 Congressional Arts Handbook.
  2. Read the NEA guide, How the United States Funds the Arts available on their website.
  3. Learn key Senate and House committees that impact NEA funding.


Take Action on this Issue