June 5, 2019
House Committee Approves Increase in Funding for the NEA
May was a great month in D.C. for the arts and state arts agencies! It began with NASAA holding a fantastic briefing in the U.S. Capitol examining the power of arts and culture to expand economic opportunities for the 60 million Americans who live in rural areas. The event was widely attended and included remarks from Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) as well as from Karen McCarthy, senior policy advisor to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). As fantastic as this event was in highlighting the critical benefits that result from federal funding for the arts, we learned that it would just be the first positive step: later in May, the House Appropriations Committee approved legislation funding the National Endowment for the Arts at $167.5 million, an increase of $12.5 million over the agency’s current appropriation.
In doing so, the House committee once again affirmed that, while partisan divides remain on contentious issues such as environmental regulation, support for the arts and the arts endowment continues to be an area of strong agreement. During the committee markup of the proposed legislation, members from both parties spoke about the valuable contribution the National Endowment for the Arts makes to the nation. The committee also affirmed the important role of state arts agencies, writing: “The bill includes funding to continue the longstanding collaborative relationship between the NEA and the States. State art agencies match NEA grant funds to support programs that respond to local needs in arts education, community development, cultural preservation, and arts access. More than 4,000 communities benefit annually from these programs.”
At NASAA, we are especially grateful for the bipartisan leadership shown in the House to support an increase in funding for the endowment. In terms of the process, we expect the House of Representatives to vote on and approve the bill sometime this month. We also expect the Senate, which has already started hearings on certain aspects of the budget, to release its draft appropriations bill at some point this summer. We have already been in touch with Senate leadership to urge that they accept the increased funding level of $167.5 million. Once we have a sense of timing for the Senate, we’ll be in touch about proactive steps you can take to support that process. In the meantime, if you are represented by a member of the House Appropriations Committee, please take a moment, if you haven’t done so already, to call or e-mail their staff and thank them for their support for the NEA’s increased appropriation.
As always, as the process continues to unfold, NASAA will be in touch regularly with updates and opportunities for engagement. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at 202-540-9162 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
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