President Proposes Modest Gains for Arts, Humanities Endowments

February 13, 2012

Under President Obama's budget proposal for the 2013 fiscal year, the National Endowments for the Arts and for the Humanities would each be allocated $8-million more than in the 2012 fiscal year.

The proposed budget, released on Monday, would increase spending at each of the endowments to $154-million, up from the $146-million each organization received when Congress finally approved a comprehensive spending plan for the current year in December. Among other activities, the two endowments offer grants to colleges for academic programs, research, and fellowships in the arts and humanities.

The budget also calls for a one-time allocation of $3-million to each endowment to help both move their offices from their current location in Washington's Old Post Office building, which Donald Trump plans to turn into a luxury hotel.

Of the proposed humanities-endowment budget, $103-million would go toward grant programs supporting projects in the humanities, including $40-million for programs by state humanities councils. The budget would also allocate $11-million for matching funds like the NEH Challenge Grants program, which matches private donations in support of humanities institutions and organizations. It would also allocate $9-million for the endowment's "Bridging Cultures" program, which works to improve American's awareness of various cultures. Past themes for the program have included the relationship between civility and democracy and the impact of Islamic cultures in the humanities.

While 60 percent of the arts endowment's budget would go toward direct grants, funds would also go toward state and regional partnerships, program support, and operating expenses. In addition to the roughly $73-million allocated for arts-endowment direct grants, $48.8-million would go toward state and regional arts agencies. Among the direct grants, $10-million would go toward "Our Town," a nationwide program aiming to strengthening various communities through the arts.

"We have worked hard to increase the funding for the NEA's core grants that is available to over 100,000 not-for-profit arts and cultural organizations in this country that work to support 5.7 million arts-related jobs, as well as the 2.1 million Americans whose primary job is being an artist," Rocco Landesman, chairman of the NEA, said in a written statement. "A dollar invested directly through the NEA is matched by $8 of additional investment and generates $26 of economic activity in the community. In short, art works."

Corrections (2/14, 10:43 a.m.): The article originally misreported several statistics concerning the arts endowment's budget. Sixty percent, not "almost half," of the endowment's budget would go toward direct grants. State and regional arts agencies would get $48.8-million, not $2.7-million, and that money would be in addition to the direct grants, not part of them. The article has been updated to reflect those corrections.