NEA 2013 Budget Honors States' Role in Federal Arts Funding

NEA 2013 Budget Honors States’ Role in Federal Arts Funding

February 17, 2012
From: Thomas L. Birch, Legislative Counsel
Vol. 07:12

The policy positions NASAA successfully impressed upon Congress last year are reflected in the Obama administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget request for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Last year, NASAA and state arts agencies advocated for several changes to the NEA’s proposed budget to ensure that states’ interests were addressed in the appropriations legislation ultimately recommended by Congress for FY2012. According to documents released this week by the NEA, and following a briefing by NEA staff for NASAA personnel on the FY2013 budget details, all four of the positions advanced by NASAA last year are reflected in the budget proposed for the year ahead.

First, in proposing an increase in funding for the NEA from the 2012 level of $146 million to $154.255 million in 2013, the NEA’s proposed budget allocates the congressionally mandated 40% share of program grant funds to the states. The 2013 budget requests an increase in support for Our Town grants from a current level of $5 million to $10 million in the coming year. Dollars for that initiative are included this time in program grants, with the states’ allocation applied.

Second, the budget document proposes two legislative changes: one clarifying allowed matching funds for grants made to the states, and the other providing guidance on the waive-of-match provisions for states and regional arts organizations. The language proposed in both instances is that developed by NASAA in collaboration with the NEA. As explained in the budget, the NEA had included proposed legislative changes on these issues in its 2012 request, “. . . however, based on House Congressional guidance, the NEA engaged in extensive collaboration and consultation with a diverse group of State Arts Agencies and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. The result of these discussions is a proposal that reflects a consensus developed from our ongoing partnerships with the States.”

Third, the 2013 budget proposes that funds to the states for Poetry Out Loud and for arts education initiatives be maintained at the current levels. Last year, anticipating disproportionate reduction in these funds, NASAA advocated to focus on maintaining fair treatment for support to the states for these activities, a position backed by congressional directive in the 2012 appropriations legislation.

Fourth, the 2013 NEA budget documents provide for continued support for the National Heritage Fellowships and the American Jazz Masters Fellowships. Both were proposed for elimination in the administration’s 2012 budget, but Congress directed the NEA “to continue its annual recognition of individuals with outstanding achievements in these disciplines in a similar manner to past years.”

NASAA and our arts advocacy colleagues working with Congress have agreed to promote a funding level of $155 million for the NEA in 2013. That figure, which is slightly above the amount requested by the president, is identical to the arts endowment’s appropriation two years ago and equal to the level proposed by the Senate appropriators going into negotiations on the 2012 budget. Later this spring, the House and Senate appropriations committees will begin their deliberations on the 2013 appropriations legislation. Bills are expected to go for floor votes in the House in June. NASAA will keep you apprised on the progress of that debate.