House Approves $5 Million Boost to NEA Funding

Classic Arts News   House Approves $5 Million Boost to NEA Funding
The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved a measure adding $5 million to National Endowment for the Arts funding, which the American Federation of Musicians attributes in part to the lobbying efforts of its members.

Next year's proposed White House NEA budget is $124.4 million, the same as this year; the amendment to the Interior appropriations bill increased the funding to $129.4 million in 2007.

The AFM initiated a grass-roots campaign to encourage House members to support the amendment, saying its members sent hundreds of letters to members of the House of Representatives.

In a statement, AFM president Thomas F. Lee said, "thanks to the support from working musicians, congress recognized the valuable contribution that the NEA makes to society and rededicated itself to supporting the arts, Without the fervent support of AFM members, the passage of this bill would not have been possible."

The relationship between the NEA and the government hasn't always been so smooth. The organization was strongly criticized in the 1980s and 1990s for supporting artists such as controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and artist Andres Serrano, which resulted in budget cuts.

But the Washington Post reports that during during a speech celebrating the NEA's 40th anniversary, chairman Dana Gioia said the organization has reconciled with the government. Military bases are now included in NEA outreach programs. "We brought 24 opera companies on tour of 39 military bases," Gioia said.

The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada represents the interests of professional musicians in negotiating agreements, protecting ownership of recorded music, and securing benefits such as health care, among others.

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