Humanities and Arts Endowments Would Have Level Budgets Under Obama Plan

March 05, 2014

The National Endowments for the Arts and for the Humanities would receive the same amount of federal funds for the 2015 fiscal year as they receive now if President Obama’s budget is approved.

Under the proposed budget released on Tuesday, the two endowments would each get about $146-million in federal money.

The two endowments award grants to colleges to support research and fellowships in the arts and humanities, among other activities.

While proposing a $398,000 decrease in administrative costs from the current year, according to the NEH’s request, the humanities agency announced that all program divisions and offices would receive increases over this year’s appropriation.

The proposed figures released on Tuesday resemble those before the 2013 budget sequestration, but Stephen Kidd, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance, an advocacy coalition, said NEH backing remained down about 12 percent from 2010 figures.

While Mr. Kidd said he was pleased to see that the support was not as low as it was during the sequester, he added that he is "concerned that the capacity of the endowment is not being built back."

"With flat budgets, as time passes the money is worth less, so it can do less, so while it is good to see the end of cuts, this is a fairly modest request," Mr. Kidd said.

The NEA’s specific budget request to Congress for the 2015 fiscal year will not be released until Friday.

"In these challenging economic times, it is heartening that President Obama has put forward level funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, allowing the NEA to continue our mission of providing all Americans opportunities for arts participation," the arts endowment’s senior deputy chairman, Joan Shigekawa, said in a news release.

Under Mr. Obama’s proposed budget, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, however, would see a slight decline in federal support, from $226.86-million this year to $226.448-million in the 2015 fiscal year. With that money, the institute would provide leadership for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums and would emphasize science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, early learning, and expanded access to federal information through libraries, the agency’s director, Susan H. Hildreth, said in a news release.

Corrections (3/5/2014, 10:16 a.m.): This article originally misstated the percentage by which NEH backing is down from 2010. It is 12 percent, not 17 percent. And a quote from Stephen Kidd was mistakenly rendered as "With flat budgets, as time passes the money is worthless ... ," but he actually said "the money is worth less." The article has been updated to reflect those corrections.