Legislative Alert: Urge House Committee Not to Cut NEA Funding

July 17, 2023

From: Isaac Brown, NASAA Legislative Counsel

This Wednesday, July 19, the House Appropriations Committee will consider the fiscal year 2024 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill. That legislation proposes to reduce the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) budget by 10%, or from $207 million to $186.3 million.

While this news was expected, it is nonetheless serious and disappointing. At NASAA we have been in regular contact with Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress in anticipation of this bill’s release, and can convey that both sides remain committed to finding a solution that lessens, and hopefully eliminates, any reduction in funding for the agency. It is especially worth noting that other programs received, on a percentage basis, larger cuts in funding.

As the committee prepares to consider the bill on Wednesday, if you are represented by a member of the committee, please consider contacting them to urge that they oppose this funding proposal. In doing so, we suggest the following points:

  1. Urge that they oppose the funding level proposed, and instead support any effort to restore full funding for the NEA. Remind them that 40% of all grant dollars allocated to the agency go directly to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations, broadening the impact of the funding, and allowing the NEA to support grants in every congressional district in the United States.
  2. While being understanding of the considerable pressure members of Congress are under, try to convey how these proposed cuts will impact your community. Talk about existing programming or events that are supported by the NEA, and how this funding cut would put future events in jeopardy.
  3. Remind them that public funding for arts and creativity is a high-return investment that strengthens every city, town and rural community nationwide.

This outreach is extremely important. It is also necessary to remember that Wednesday’s hearing is just the first stage of the process, and that there are many members of Congress who will be working as hard as we are, behind the scenes, to prevent this proposal from going into effect. If you have any specific questions about how to approach your member of Congress, please do not hesitate to contact me.