Friday, March 17, 2023

Neoclassical architecture of marble U.S. Capitol dome with bright blue sky at sunset and purple-orange clouds in background.

The U.S. House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee, led by Chair Mike Simpson (R-ID), invited testimony from stakeholders on the FY 2024 (FY24) appropriations process. The subcommittee oversees federal funding for natural and cultural resources, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Americans for the Arts submitted testimony calling for, “…federal funding for both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) at no less than $211 million each for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024.” Funding at no less than this amount would match or exceed what the Biden Administration proposed in their FY24 budget request released earlier this month.

The testimony also requested that the subcommittee, “…build a specific path to index funding for each of these two cultural agencies at $1 per capita.” Each agency is currently funded at only 62 cents per capita. This ask—a policy proposal arts advocates strongly support—has been central to Americans for the Arts and Arts Action Fund advocacy efforts for over a decade. 

The testimony highlights the strong public-private partnership facilitated by the NEA and NEH as evidenced by the recently released U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data shows that arts and culture economic activity increased to 4.4% of gross domestic product (GDP), topping $1.02 trillion, in 2021. In addition to traditional arts and culture programs, both the NEA and NEH offer opportunities for those who serve in the military, their families, and Veterans reintegrating into civilian life. 

Finally, the statement emphasized the importance of the NEA’s funding of Local Arts Agencies (LAAs). LAAs are responsible for approximately $912 million annually in public and private grantmaking and have taken the lead in equity-centered grantmaking in their cities, counties, and rural and suburban areas. LAA’s have been entrusted with federal, state, and local funds, including Community Development Block G Grants (CDBG), CARES Act, and American Rescue Plan Act state and local block grant funds and other government sources to support emergency relief grants to art-based small businesses and nonprofits, as well as individual artists, creative workers, and entrepreneurs.

Federal funding for both agencies at no less than $211 million each for FY 2024 would show support for the arts and culture sector, its workforce, and the myriad communities who benefit from the work of arts and humanities organizations.

U.S. Capitol photo by Dawit Tibebu from Pixabay.