Despite receiving increased funding for the remainder of the 2017 Fiscal Year, the National Endowment for the Arts remains in jeopardy. The Trump administration’s 2018 budget plan (released May 23) calls for the eventual elimination of the federal agency, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
This decision is consistent with the president’s March outline, titled “America First.” The full plan grants the NEA $29 million for the 2018 fiscal year to conduct a closeout. The NEA and NEH were granted a total of $150 million each this year.
The complete plan states, “the Administration does not consider NEA activities to be core Federal responsibilities.” Its justification continues: “In 2014, NEA funding represented just four percent of total public and private support for the arts in the United States.”
The reason for the high percentage of public and private arts funding, however, is because of the NEA. The agency requires a dollar-for-dollar match from its grant recipients, and each dollar funded through the NEA can leverage up to nine dollars in further support.
The $150 million in funding for the NEA is a crucial stepping stone toward generating upwards of $500 million for national arts funding. The work that arts organizations produce—many with help of this funding—contributes over $700 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
As emphasized before, the budget is approved and finalized by congress—not the administration. It is therefore vital that supporters of the arts contact their representatives to voice their concern.
“The NEA supports middle-class arts jobs in every congressional district in the country. The last thing we need to do is slash a program that creates and sustains jobs in small and regional theaters all over America,” Actors' Equity President Kate Shindle said in a statement following the release of the new budget plan.
Shindle continued, “Thousands of our members have already spoken up about how the NEA is an economic lifeline in so many places. Members of Congress heard us loud and clear when they decided to maintain the NEA’s funding for the rest of 2017. As Congress takes up the new budget, Actors’ Equity will continue our fight to protect the NEA’s critical seed funding that helps productions get off the ground in small and regional theaters.”
Watch the video below as several Broadway favorites join Playbill in raising their voices for the NEA. To learn more about what you can do to help, visit Playbill.com/NEA.