On Thursday, March 16, The Trump administration released their 2018 budget proposal which aims to eliminate funding to a number of independent agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts(NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities(NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services(IMLS) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting(CBP).
The total spending of the NEA adds up to $148 million a year, NEH $148 million, IMLS $230 million and CPB $445 million. These organizations together only spend $971 million a year, whereas the total federal spending in the 2015 fiscal year was $3.8 trillion. This results in these groups only making up 0.02% of the total federal budget. While looking at it from the grand scheme of things, it seems rather infinitesimal to cut agencies that only represent 0.02% of funding when the outcome will be incredibly damaging for small art groups.
The NEA was established in 1965 with the mission to give Americans equal opportunity to participate in the arts. Today, 40 percent of the NEA’s grantmaking budget is awarded directly to the states through their state and regional arts agencies. The remaining 60 percent are awards made to directly towards organizations and individuals that apply through NEA’s funding categories.
The NEA promotes participation and access to the arts nationally through funding for school programs for the arts, after-school art programs, national poetry competitions, art therapists in military hospitals that help heal traumatic brain injuries and much more.
In 2016, 65% of the NEA’s direct grants went to small and medium-sized organizations. Without federal funds given to the NEA, these small and medium-sized organizations would be impacted more compared to larger organizations that can find secondary funding.
A large portion of the NEA’s grants go to those who don’t have easy access to the arts. If these smaller organizations are defunded, it could become difficult for kids to get access to art programs and participate in the arts. In fact, 40% of the NEA-supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhoods where school programs are the only exposure to the arts that children can get.
For many children and teens, art serves as a creative outlet allowing them to express their emotions and find a safe place to escape from troubled or stressful home-lives.
The NEH was also established in 1965 and is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States today. The NEH supports research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities nationwide. Like the NEA, the NEH is given federal funding that is then passed off as grants to smaller organizations. For example, the NEH offers grants to museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars.
The IMLS is an independent agency established in 1996 that encourages libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning and cultural and civic engagement. The IMLS receives federal funding that is also distributed through grants that then goes towards providing libraries with access to computers as well as disability services and grants for museums. They’re widely known for Museums for America. IMLS also focuses on national issues for preservation by creating digital platforms within museums, as well as conducting research on the museum database.
If the IMLS is defunded, smaller libraries and museums will be hit the hardest. This, in turn, will negatively impact many children’s education as many children depend on libraries for access to books, computers, the Internet and other resources needed for learning.
The CPB was established in 1967 and gives access to non-commercial and educational broadcasting. CPB is the largest single source of funding for public radio, television, and related online and mobile services.
The CPB gives grants to smaller organizations, distributing more than 70% of its funding to nearly 1,500 locally owned public radio and television stations. While programs like the ‘Morning Edition by NPR or PBS’s ‘Sesame Street’ are likely to stay on the air, small local events and news stations will be impacted.
Since this is just the blueprint of the proposal, Congress has to take into consideration their own budgets aside from the administration’s request. That being said, you can contact your congress representative and urge them to vote against Trump’s budget proposal. Even though members of the Congress have spoken negatively about the budget proposal, calling the plan “dead on arrival.”, it is always important to stand up for what you believe in.
One way to take a stand is it to fill out your information here, and it will send a pre-typed email to your representative in Congress urging them to #SavetheNEA.