For the second consecutive year, President Trump’s proposed budget seeks to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities so that they “begin shutting down” permanently. As of now, both agencies have budgets of around $150 million, but if Trump’s proposal passes, the NEA’s funding will be reduced to $29 million, while the NEH doesn’t fare much better at $42 million for fiscal year 2019. All together, cuts from Corporation for Public Broadcasting (from $445 million to $15 million), the NEA, and the NEH, along with cuts from the the Institute of Museum and Library Services, result in almost one billion dollars eliminated from the $4.4 trillion dollar budget.
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu released a statement on Monday in response to the proposed budget announcement:
Today we learned that the President’s FY 2019 budget proposes elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals in thousands of communities and in every Congressional District in the nation.
In FY 2018 to date, the NEA has awarded 1,134 grants totaling $26.68 million to organizations and individuals in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, launched a national songwriting competition for high school students, convened four summits across the country as part of Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, issued a research report on the economic impact of the arts in rural communities, and distributed emergency funding to arts agencies in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, among other activities.
We understand that the President’s budget request is a first step in a very long budget process. We stand ready to assist in that process as we continue to operate as usual.
As a federal government agency, the NEA cannot engage in advocacy, either directly or indirectly. We will, however, continue our practice of educating about the NEA’s vital role in serving our nation’s communities.
That “long process” Chu entails getting such a proposal that promotes such austerity in domestic spending while compounding the national debt through Congress.
Trump proposed a budget that was just as hostile to arts funding last year, but cultural agencies survived the Congressional budget vote in May, with the NEA and NHA, picking up an extra $2 million for fiscal year 2018. A vote on the current budget isn’t expected for several months, in which case the document that ends up passing through Congress will hopefully look different than the one released today.
With domestic spending drastically reduced, Trump seeks to funnel money into heightening border security with a proposed $18 billion to be spent on a Southern border wall over the course of two years in addition to the funds necessary to hire 2,000 more ICE officers and 750 more Border Patrol officers. Other agencies that can expect to receive more funding are the defense department and the energy department in order to beef up the nuclear arsenal.