The U.S. House of Representatives voted 217-216 to shut down the embattled National Endowment for the Arts and replace it with grants to arts commissions and school boards in the individual states.
The NEA's current $99.6 million budget would be slashed to $10 million (only enough to close down the agency) and be replaced by block grants totalling some $80 million under the House plan, proposed by Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia.
Under the Gingrich plan, $30 million would go to state art commissions; $48 million to local school boards and $2 million would be spent on administrative costs.
The plan, which passed by a single vote, must also be approved by the Senate and President Bill Clinton before it becomes law.
President Clinton had asked for an increase in 1998 to $136 million, and has said he will veto the Department of the Interior budget, which contains the $10 million to shut down the NEA, currently chaired by Broadway actress Jane Alexander. The NEA was a mainstay of non-profit theatres throughout the U.S. In the 1980s, and still helps support resident theatres, though its funding has been curtailed in recent years. Many in Congress believe the government should not be funding art.u can also use the internet to contact government leaders to express your opinion for or against the July 10 vote.
Contact your Representative at http://www.igc.apc.org/eic/States.html.
Contact your Senator at http://www.yahoo.com/Government/Legislative_Branch/Senate/Senators/.
Contact President Bill Clinton at http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/Mail/html/Mail_President.html.
You can also visit the NEA website at http://arts.endow.gov/Homepage.html.
-- By Robert Viagas