Congress Finalizes Current Budget with Arts Increases

Re-published with permission from Americans For The Arts

We wanted to share the latest breaking news from Washington this morning and another great example of how all of your grassroots arts advocacy efforts of sending thousands of letters, emails, phone calls, personal visits, op-eds, news articles, targeted advertising, and research proved effective.

Congress has reached a bipartisan agreement on a bill to fund the nation’s federal agencies and programs for the remaining balance of the current Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget, which ends on September 30, 2017.  None of the nation’s arts and cultural agencies nor programs incurred a budget cut. In fact, many of them received funding increases for this year (see chart below).

Key Federally Funded Arts & Culture Agencies/Programs FY 2016 Enacted Appropriations
(in millions)
FY 2017 Omnibus Proposal
(in millions)
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) $148 $150
National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) $148 $150
Assistance for Arts Education grant program through U.S. Department of Education $27 $27
New ESSA Well-Rounded Education grants $400
21st Century Community Learning Centers (after-school program) $1,140 $1,190
Corporation for Public Broadcasting $445 $445
Office of Museum Services $31 $32
Save America’s Treasures $0 $5
Smithsonian Institution $840 $863
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum $54 $57
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts $36 $36
U.S. Commission of Fine Arts $2.65 $2.8
Nat’l Capital Arts & Cultural Affairs Program $2 $2
National Gallery of Art $148 $155.5

Special thanks goes to House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) for initiating a funding increase for many of these cultural programs in the House Interior bill last summer along with ranking member Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and to Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for matching the funding increases in the final Senate version of the bill. Many thanks to Congressional Arts Caucus co-chairs Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Senate Cultural Caucus co-chairs Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for keeping pressure on Congressional leaders to increase funding for these critically important cultural agencies.

None of this could have happened without you. The grassroots calls to action that you promoted and pushed out led to arts advocates from all across the country sending over 165,000+ emails to their elected representatives. As you know, Arts Advocacy Day in March drew new record numbers (712 attendees!), larger than we have ever seen before in the 30 years of Arts Advocacy Days.  Every Congressional and Senatorial office was hit with messages of the value of the arts and there were over 400 face-to-face meetings with Congressional leaders and staff!

Next Steps:

  • FY2017:  Both chambers of Congress will next vote on this bipartisan Omnibus Appropriations bill before it proceeds to the President’s desk for him to sign/veto by this Friday, May 5th.  Despite the President recently proposing funding cuts to many of these cultural programs (i.e. $15 million cut to NEA), it appears that he will sign the bill that was held over from last year’s congress.
  • FY2018:  Please note that the FY2018 appropriations bill for funding the federal government from October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018 is still very much in play and going through the legislative process. This is the bill that the President recommended eliminating the NEA, NEH, IMLS, CPB, etc.  We remain focused on getting all of these agencies fully funded in the coming months.

As we turn our focus to FY 2018, the success of securing increased funding for the arts for FY 2017 is great testimonial to the impact of advocacy!

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