Thursday, January 26, 2017

On January 19, The Hill newspaper carried a troubling report related to funding for the arts in the incoming administration. The article said that transition team advisors to the President are calling for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
There are many decision-making points in our federal process including the White House, Congressional budget resolution, Congressional appropriations committees, plus the full House and Senate. Each of these branches and stages need to be informed so that good decisions result. We look forward to leading that advocacy.
What we do know is that the arts are a great investment in our national economy.
  • The arts are a $704 billion industry.
  • The arts mean business, accounting for 4.2 percent of the nation's annual GDP.
  • The arts deliver an economic advantage, generating a $24 billion annual trade surplus.
  • The arts equal jobs, employing 4.7 million workers.
  • The very small NEA budget serves as a significant leveraging tool that has helped create an entire industry of locally based small business and jobs that cannot be outsourced.
Americans for the Arts wants to work with the incoming Administration in making America the best that it can be and we feel certain the arts are a proven strategy for building better lives and communities across the country. Thank you for working with us to ensure every American has opportunities to experience the transformative power of the arts.
Frequently Asked Questions Relating to the Funding Threats to the NEA
1. The Hill article says the NEA is going to be terminated? Is this true? The Hill article is about two transition team members putting together suggestions for the FY2018 Trump budget proposal. Both of these individuals worked for the Heritage Foundation which has been calling for the NEA to be shut down since 1997. It’s not clear if their suggestions will be incorporated into a Trump budget proposal to Congress.

2. Can President Trump shut down the NEA right now? No. The NEA is an independent federal agency and the executive orders you see him signing right now don’t affect it. While he can call for NEA Chairman Jane Chu’s resignation, or possibly delay the awarding of grants, it takes an act of Congress to make permanent changes to the NEA.

3. Were only cultural agencies singled out for termination? No, the article mentions suggested cuts (in the billions) to the Departments of State, Commerce and Energy, among others. 
4. Is Congress about to terminate the NEA? No. There’s a series of about a dozen procedural steps that Congress and its committees must take to move legislation that would terminate the NEA. We’re at the very beginning of that process and the first steps would begin next month and we intend to call on members of Congress for NEA support at each step.
5. What are the chances we can stop this? Making accurate predictions on the outcomes of Congress is an impossible task. However, the last time Congress saw votes to cut the NEA was in 2011, and the key vote was defeated, preventing a $10 million cut. This is because there is bipartisan support for the NEA. This is also because of the collective work of arts advocates from across the country. 
6. What about sending people to sign the White House petition in support of the NEA? The “We The People” site that was initiated by the Obama Administration is still operating, but it should not be considered a promising way to contact the Administration until they have publically committed to keeping it.