As had been expected for almost two months, President Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 eliminates funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institutes of Museum and Library Services. The NEA and NEH had both received about $148 million in funding, while the IMSL budget was $230 million.
In mid January, The Hill reported that the Trump administration planned to take the axe to a host of domestic programs in order to raise military funding by 10% (or $54 billion).
Previous Republican presidents had called for major cutbacks at the NEA and NEH, but compromises with the Congress kept the agencies alive. Various media reports today said some sort of dealing-making involving the budget is inevitable, though no one could predict what the final outcome of the budget battle will mean for the NEA and other domestic agencies.
A statement from NEA chairman Jane Chu highlighted the fact that the budget request “is a first step in a very long process.” Still, Chu said she was “disappointed” by the budget, because “we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities.” She noted that the NEA is working with the Office of Management and Budget to “prepare the information they have requested.” Until a new budget is passed, the NEA will continue to operate as usual, Chu said.
Reaction to Trump’s proposed budget from arts groups was swift. LitNet, a coalition of literary arts organizations, called the intent to gut the NEA “unacceptable.” The group stated: “By eliminating this funding the administration is waging war on free expression, on the impact the arts have on the economy, and the role the arts play in education, healing, and innovation.”
LitNet urged members to contact their representative in congress, as well as the senate, to let them know they are opposed to killing the NEA.