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House Republicans unveil plan to end federal arts and humanities agencies and aid to public broadcasting

January 20, 2011 |  8:20 pm

USCapitol Federal support for arts and culture is now officially in the cross hairs of congressional Republicans, if that's a metaphor we're still allowed to use.

Any way you want to describe it, the Republican Study Committee, made up of about 165 GOP members of the House of Representatives, on Thursday announced a budget-cutting plan aimed at slashing federal spending, and it calls for the elimination of the nation's two leading makers of government arts grants: the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Also on the chopping block is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The arts and humanities endowments each get $167.5 million a year; the broadcasting agency, which supports public radio and television, gets $445 million.

The NEA last had to fight for its survival in 1995, when Republicans gained control of the House and Senate and sought to get rid of the endowment. It had outraged some conservatives with grants that in certain highly publicized cases had supported performances or exhibitions they deemed offensive. While the NEA survived, It took a 39% budget cut and saw the elimination of nearly all grants to individual artists. Despite increases over the past 10 years, the NEA's inflation-adjusted buying power remains $58 million a year less than it was before those mid-'90s "culture wars."

This time, the ax would fall on the agencies as part of a bid to reduce the federal deficit. The bill, called the Spending Reduction Act of 2011, aims to reduce federal spending by $2.5 trillion over 10 years. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), chairman of the Republican Senate Steering Committee, also backs the plan.

Federal arts and culture spending is currently about $1.6 billion a year, not counting construction budgets. The legislation does not call for cuts to the annual budgets for the Smithsonian Institution ($761.4 million), the Institute of Museum and Library Services ($282.3 million), the National Gallery of Art ($167 million) or the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (about $20 million).

All those organizations except the IMLS offer performances and exhibitions -- free, in the case of the Smithsonian's museums and the National Gallery -- that might be seen as a perk of living in Washington, D.C.; grants from the NEA and NEH are national in scope.

Culture Monster is momentarily incapable of doing the math to figure out what percentage $7.8 billion (10 years' savings from NEA, NEH and Corporation for Public Broadcasting) is of $2.5 trillion, but our sense is that it's fairly small.

The NEA provides $1 million a year for California's state arts agency, the California Arts Council, about 20% of its $5.3 million budget.

In an interview Wednesday, before the GOP plan had come out, Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts, a leading advocacy group for government funding of the arts, had said arts supporters "are cognizant of the attitudes out there among some leaders, and we have to do a good job of education."

A key argument, Lynch said, is that the government's existing arts-funding model follows conservative budgetary principles: A small federal investment that's important to the health of the nonprofit arts sector helps sustain its 5.7 million jobs and the $30 billion in annual returns to federal, state and local coffers that those workers pay in taxes.

-- Mike Boehm


Comments () | Archives (35)

Why is it that other countries have seen the value of the arts/creativity and are intoducing into their curiculums and life enhancement and the USA is turning their backs on that which made us a great country? freedom and creativity

Americans have always turned their back on creative art. Its greatest expression has been in its music, jazz. How many of you know anything about it? I doubt any, because American visual art since 1960 and the spewing forth of art grads has been about self expression. Thats for children, it aint creativity.

How many of you understand that Miles Davis is the musical equivalent of Matisse? That bebop is the same as analytical cubism? That free jazz and abstract expressionsim are identical, both in their limitations and achievement? That true art is of mind, body and soul combined as one. That god is always present in art, not exiled as some outdated "concept" It is always the only one worth exploring, as Coltrane did in A Love Supreme.

The American genius is in movement, its art academies always been about refinement schools for young ladies.Keeps them busy with a social schedule to appear useful. Instead of dealing with reality, getting out into our neighborhoods and being instrumental in real change. Now that would be creativity. Instead too scared to even travel to Watts and see the greatest work of art in the West, Nuestro Pueblo.

And jazz came from the streets, it got no handouts. It received no government backing, because it is of us. Not committees run by representatives of the rich to keep their wives and kids busy and out of trouble, keepng art defanged, neuterd, castrated and so no longer the threat to the status quo that true creative art always is. No artists can come from within the belly of the beast, no great artist has ever graduated from an art school.

Time to weed out the weak, and seek what is essential. Contempt art sure as hell isnt. No one cares as it is for less than 1% of the population, and so the masses rise against its decadence. Art is always about Us, contempt art about Me. Fund those institutions that present what keeps us together as a people, that binds us together, not splinters Us for market share. Art is of the soul, not commerce.

art collegia delenda est

These 'cuts' amount to about $2.50 in tax savings for every man, woman, and child in the US. To call this cut fiscal responsibility would be like pledging to drink one less cup of Starbucks coffee per year as a way to "rein in" your frivolous spending.

It amazes me how artists will not accept the fact that we are in a financial crisis. Can you please open your eyes and accept the fact that majority of Non Profit Art Organizations in Los Angeles are corrupt. They are unethical and mismanage funds. Here is an example: LATC

Civil War at the LATC

this is a line posted by W. Bradshaw . ." The media is very good at accusing politicians, especially the more conservative ones, of using terminology that leads to violence. Knowing this, why does the Los Angleles times use the term "cross hairs"?
it seems to me that he is trying to turn the attention away from the GOP media machine. We all know how it was recently put in the spotlight by remarks from one of its big hitters from a state WAY up north. I personally think that they have a great handle on changing the way people think. Not unlike the way the Nazi's did it to there own people prior to WWII. its very simple...you start by telling a story with about 10 percent truth. then you twist it around and steer it anyway you want it to end. read the history books on the nazi's and then look at our situations now. you will be very surprised!

The other link didn't work. Here is the correct link

Civil War at LATC

Whether local, state or federal, the number crunchers always look to the arts to start slashing programs. A culture that continues to undervalue the benefits of arts and humanities programs is choosing to be blind to the facts. Silence the creative mind and create a society that looses it's ability to question why, explore and create.

What creative mind? Americans have gone elsewhere because of the lack of true human passion in the arts, only seeking the old tried and true as no new arts are worth a damn It is now all about the soft artistes tender sensibilties and his tiny constituency.

Go Steelers! Thats where true passion lies now, sports, real drama. And where American get their passion rush. I know I have coached and had my kids play with many now in the NBA and NFL. TV , movies and electronic gadgets are for kids, all short term and immediate gratification. Sports in big games provides truth, energy, passion, selflessness, teamwork, sacrifice, responsbility, commitment. All lacking now in our arts. Since 1960 no artist worth a damn has given us anything to unite with, maybe Anselm Kiefer.

And you wonder why arts are always a target. Dance, Euro music,plays are for the wealthy, those with too much time and money on their skinny hands. The regular intelligent American of soul and physicality is stretched, there are many as i think 20% are quite capable of getting it, We crave mature and real mythmakers, which is what artists do. Ones built off our collective past, of the moment, that unite us and give purpose, not by telling us how to think and feel, but allowing the viewer to participate, No dialogue, but losing 0neself in our common humanity.

Until artistes start thinking and creating for more than themselves and their buddies, this is what will happen, and deservedly so. You are irrelevant, giants only in your own minds. We dont care, you have given us no reason to. You have failed.

art collegia delenda est
fine art collegs must be destroyed.

Once again those of us who work in the Arts are being targeted. Do the Republicans not understand the idea to be a well rounded, tolerent people, we need to explore the WHOLE person? The Arts provide a way for our students to do this very thing. I have one question for the Republicans in office at this time. Will the moneys you claim to be saving go to balanceing the budget, or will it be used to help those in big busness make themselves richer?

I find hard to stomach that while yes, this article is from the LA Times, it concerns arts funding for the WHOLE COUNTRY. Perhaps there are corrupt arts nonprofits in LA, but not ALL nonprofits are corrupt throughout this country. Should we cut all education funding because some districts mismanage their funds? Of course not. So why would we take that route with the arts?
I'm employed by an arts nonprofit that brings dance and visual art into schools that can't afford or don't have access to programs of their own. Teaching kids tap, ballet or ballroom dance isn't about an elite dance form, it's about teaching them to be aware of their bodies, to respect themselves and their bodies and to respect their classmates. It's about confidence, problem solving, giving them something to look forward to at school. Kids who are coming to school excited for dance class pour that excitement into the rest of their classes and their whole day.
Not to mention that creativity, problem solving, and self-respect are some of the most essential & marketable job skills.
Cutting arts funding is a drop of water in an ocean of debt, but it's a drop that will adversely affect job creation, education & the cultural life of our country.

Us independents would like arts money go to HS cultural teaching, they are the ones who need it. Music, drawing, dance, let them discover themselves and their gifts, by college they should be finding out, and can learn on their own as young adults.

But that is not where this money would be going. I would rather save the education budget as much as possible, but until we mature and learn to balance our budget responsibly, this is what must happen. We are busted, broke, been bamboozled, hoodwinked, tapped into our own personal greed and grandiose visions of ourselves. After we become adults and learn to sacrifice, show commitment, and learn what is truly important, we can climb out of this hole we dug wiht irresponsbile spending and tax cutting.

Manup America, time to pay off the credit card, you maxed out and interest is spiraling out of control. Time to deal with reality. In the mean time, everything msut be cut, and yes, taxes raised, Obama messed up there, all taxes should have risen. Those with jobs can pay it, the mass cuttings are almost over, though one more wave of government delayed layoffs are coming.

There is no money. Suck it up, to cut taxes during time of war is the most irresponsible act ever, never been done in all of history, and leads to this. Leaving a huge debt to those very young people who got shot at, I know, I have one.

art collegia delenda est
Save money by cutting all fine art programs, we have far too many unemployed artistes already, and they are incompetent and meaningless in fulfilling the role of the artist in our culture. Keep applied arts, and art classes in HS and college, but no more MFAs or contempt art museums to tease them with false glory , they are wasteful, therapeutic daycare centers.

It is time to put aside childish things.
St Paul and some guy named Obama

I support Wisconsite above, and funding programs to get arts to the people, such as PBS, Though with National Geographic and others making their own cable networks, the need is less. Still, Nova, Nature, American story, but then, those arent arts, are they?

No more fine art schools, or tax exempt subsidies for vanity arts. Art has a purpose and role in human culture, time to fultill tath, and it wont come by being a lapdog of the nouveau riche. It comes from character adn ahrd work, and character develops frpm adversity. Manup, art is for and by the strong and growing, enough with the weak children, get a job like the rest of us.

Save the spiritual and creative Watts Towers(Nuestro Pueblo), built by one man with no help besides donation of colored trash and waste materials from friends. The largest work ever created by one man. A real man, even if only 4'11". Sam Rodia was a true artist. Thank you.

I'd love to see the reaction to Sesame Street being taken off the air, as well as the some of the world's best TV programming such as American Experience, American Masters, and Secrets of the Dead. Then watch the NPR audience freak out. Performance Today, Fresh Air, Morning Edition, and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me must be too intellectually challenging for weak minded conservatives, despite their own mole placed in charge during the Bush Administration at the head of the CPB Board of Directors, who conducted a fairness in media study that concluded NPR and PBS to be the most fair and balanced of ALL broadcast news media in the US.

And the funding for the Arts and Humanities in this country is minuscule. Government grants for one construction project are twice the total arts funding per year--chicken feed--cheap chicken feed--so these cuts are pure politics.

We have the wrong things being cut ! Art ,our school system whats next? How about raising taxes on alcohol and cigarettes again and parking tickets .

"primus" doesn't know what they're going on about.. yeh? mismanaged? so, private biz and other portions of government funding and the government itself aren't?

oh, you're soo right.. (go to bed momma's toy)

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