Prominent Republican Proposes Privatizing the NEA

Prominent Republican Proposes Privatizing the NEA

From: Isaac Brown, Legislative Counsel
Vol. 14:05
April 3, 2014

On Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2015. Like the president’s budget proposal, Representative Ryan’s budget, which he calls “The Pathway to Prosperity,” is not a formal legislative bill but rather a set of policy recommendations.

In his proposal, Ryan calls for a $5-trillion reduction in spending over 10 years by offering changes to social welfare programs, ending government ownership of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Of particular concern to state arts agencies and cultural advocates, the plan also calls for the elimination of public funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Specifically, the proposal says: “Encourage Private Funding for Cultural Agencies. Federal subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting can no longer be justified. The activities and content funded by these agencies go beyond the core mission of the federal government. These agencies can raise funds from private-sector patrons, which will also free them from any risk of political interference.”

NASAA opposes this proposal in the strongest terms possible and is advocating for funding the NEA at $155 million. It is important to note that Chairman Ryan’s committee does not write the NEA’s budget; that responsibility falls under the jurisdiction of the Appropriations Committee. NASAA has spoken to staff for the Appropriations Committee and has learned that there is no indication that Ryan’s suggestion is under consideration.

Nonetheless, we urge you to contact your member of Congress and urge support for the NEA. NASAA’s policy brief, Why Should Government Support the Arts? and our 2014 NEA Fact Sheetinclude helpful talking points about the benefits of public investments in culture.