On Sept. 30, 1996, Congress voted to approve a $99.5 million budget for the National Endowment For The Arts for fiscal 1997. The decision, part of a larger, omnibus appropriations bill, has President Clinton's support.
Even more important than the new budget is the bill's call for continued funding of the NEA. When the version passed by the House Of Representatives called for ending funding after 1997, the Clinton administration urged the Senate to commit to keeping the Endowment going. Also, the earlier House draft called for restricting the types of grants awarded by the NEA, and even forcing the NEA to restrict its funding to fellowships in literature, the American Jazz Masters program, or national heritage research. Congress removed these provisions.
As if preparing for the worst, the new bill also authorizes state and local art agencies to provide subgrants, which would be a way for local governments to leverage their arts funding.
The information for this piece came from Christopher Wilson's "NEA Watch" update in the Nov. 1996 Dramatists Guild Newsletter.
-- By David Lefkowitz