Arts and Humanities Endowments Would Edge Up Under Obama's Budget

April 10, 2013

Federal funds for the National Endowments for the Arts and for the Humanities would remain stable under President Obama's proposed budget for the 2014 fiscal year.

Mr. Obama's budget proposal, released on Wednesday, would raise each endowment's budgets by roughly $200,000, to $154.5-million for the coming fiscal year. The two endowments offer grants to colleges for research and fellowships in the arts and humanities, among other activities.

Under the federal spending cuts that took effect on March 1, known as the sequester, both endowments took budget reductions of $7-million, though Mr. Obama's proposal does not reflect those cuts.

Nearly 81 percent—about $125-million—of the proposed arts-endowment budget would be allocated to direct grants as well as state and regional partnerships. Of the $75-million set aside for direct endowment grants, $10-million would support the arts endowment's nationwide "Our Town" program, which aims to strengthen communities through the arts. About $50-million would finance state and regional partnerships.

With the proposed budget for "Our Town," the arts endowment estimates that it could extend the program to as many as 115 additional communities throughout the country.

Of the proposed humanities-endowment budget, $106.8-million would be allocated to grant programs, $43.4-million of which would finance the operations, projects, and programs of state and territorial humanities councils. The proposed budget would also set aside $9-million for the endowment's "Bridging Cultures" program, which seeks to increase awareness of various cultures, and $11.3-million in federal matching funds, including the endowment's Challenge Grants program, which matches private donations in support of humanities organizations.

"With this funding," the humanities endowment said, "we believe that NEH can make a credible investment in a range of humanities activities that will yield both immediate and long-term returns to the nation."