March 6, 2019
Urge NEA Funding of $167.5 Million for FY2020
2019 is off to a busy start. As you are aware, last month, with another government shutdown only days away, members of Congress and President Trump were able to reach an agreement to fund all federal agencies until the end of this fiscal year (September 30). In doing so, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was finally able to receive an increase of $2 million, raising its overall appropriation to $155 million. I use the term finally because both the House and Senate had agreed to increase the agency’s FY2019 funding last year, but disagreements about budgetary issues unrelated to the NEA had stalled the process.
While it is welcome news that the agency is now operating with a budget of $155 million, we as arts advocates have no time to savor the moment. That is because work is already under way on FY2020 appropriations bills. In fact, just last week, NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux appeared before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee to urge members of Congress to support funding the NEA at $167.5 million. That number is the new request that NASAA and other arts advocacy organizations made to Congress this week at Arts Advocacy Day. While the number is admittedly ambitious, particularly given the fact that we expect President Trump to once again call for the NEA’s elimination, we feel that it is appropriate, thanks to the significant, bipartisan support of legislators who continue to fight for funding for the arts throughout the federal government and especially at the NEA.
Now that the FY2020 appropriations process is in full swing, I encourage all of you, particularly those who were not able to make it to D.C. for Arts Advocacy Day, to reach out to your elected members of Congress. In doing so, please stress the following:
- Thank them for their strong support for the NEA, including increasing its funding to $155 million.
- Urge them to support funding the agency at $167.5 million in FY2020.
- In making this request, make sure that they are aware that, due to the federal-state partnership, 40% of the NEA’s grant funding goes directly to state and regional arts organizations and, as a result, every congressional district in the United States benefits from federal funding for the NEA.
- Finally, leave them with an update about events in their district or new initiatives being undertaken by your agency, and how NEA funding has supported them. Whether you are speaking to an elected official who is supportive of the agency or one who still needs to be convinced, this type of real-life information can be hugely impactful as negotiations about a specific funding level for the NEA get under way.
As always, please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information. If you are not sure who your member of Congress is, you can use this link to get contact information.
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