NASAA Notes: August 2019

August 5, 2019

As August Recess Begins, NEA FY2020 Budget Still Uncertain

While Congress begins its annual August recess, it does so having confirmed Mary Anne Carter’s nomination to lead the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). NASAA has thoroughly enjoyed working with Carter since she was appointed to a senior position with the agency early in 2017 and as her role has grown.

Though the approval of Carter to lead the arts endowment is an important step forward, the agency remains in a bit of limbo at the moment. As you are aware, earlier this summer, the House of Representatives voted to significantly increase the NEA’s budget for fiscal year 2020, from its current funding level of $155 million to $167.5 million. In doing so, the House broke with the recent approach of modest funding increases for the agency that had been consistently approved by Congress in recent years. While we at NASAA join the entire arts community in strongly appreciating this demonstration of support, which will benefit state arts agencies and programs across the country, it is important to consider that the House’s approval is only the first step in the process. The Senate, which has yet to release its proposal for the NEA, may choose a different funding level. Such a difference would not be at all uncommon, particularly in years like this one, with each chamber of Congress held by a different political party. The resulting disagreement may require members of the House and Senate to enter into a conference to try to negotiate the differences between their funding levels.

Therefore, if you are represented by a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, August is an excellent time to contact your senator and encourage them to support the House-approved level of $167.5 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. In doing so, we encourage you to make the following points:

  1. Thank the member’s office for their strong support of the National Endowment for the Arts, particularly in recent years when the President has recommended eliminating the agency.
  2. Urge that the senator support funding the NEA at $167.5 million in FY2020. Convey that as a result of the federal-state partnership, 40% of all the agency’s grant funding is directed to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations. This unique agreement means that funding to the NEA reaches every state and congressional district in the country.
  3. Finally, try to relay how the increase in funding could support innovative programming occurring at your agency. Members of Congress and staff appreciate the opportunity to hear how an increase in funding, particularly during these difficult fiscal times, can benefit their communities. So if you know of an interesting arts demonstration or event, invite the senator and their staff to attend. This will help develop your relationship with the senator’s office while also promoting the efficacy of your agency or organization.

With current funding set to expire at the end of September, we expect the Senate to move quickly when it returns after Labor Day. Given that it is August recess and members and staff are often home, that last point above is especially important. Take advantage of the fact that Congress is out of session to invite a senator and/or staff to visit you and learn firsthand about how federal funding for the arts is so invaluable to their community.

As always, if you have questions or need additional information on the direct benefits your state receives as a result of federal investment in the arts through the National Endowment for the Arts, please do not hesitate to contact the team at NASAA. Likewise, I am always available to answer any questions you might have at

I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA

Research on Demand




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