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Obama expected to sign bill to increase cultural funding

October 30, 2009 |  2:56 pm


For once, some good news on the cultural funding front.

President Obama is expected to sign a bill this weekend that will increase funding for the nation's main cultural bodies to their highest levels in nearly 16 years.

This week, Congress approved the Interior Appropriations Bill for the 2010 fiscal year. Among other things, the bill provides funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities at $167.5 million for each agency.

Earlier this year, Obama had proposed a 4% increase in the NEA's 2010 budget, to $161.3 million from its current level of $155 million. The agency's new 2010 budget goes beyond what Obama had proposed, representing an 8% increase over this year.

But Congress nixed the president's proposed $171.3 million budget for the NEH. The agency will receive the same amount as the NEA for 2010.

The NEA has also received additional federal funding through Obama's economic stimulus package.

In June, the House of Representatives approved budgets of $170 million for both the NEA and NEH. But a Senate committee called for $161.3 million each. The final budgets were negotiated this week in Congress.

Rocco Landesman, the new head of the NEA, told Culture Monster recently that he didn't think that his agency would receive more funding than what had already been proposed.

Christmas in October, Rocco.

-- David Ng

Photo: President Obama. Credit: Joshua Roberts / EPA

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