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James Canavan

Professor Walker
JRN 528
02 May 2017

Funding (Or lack of) for National Endowment of the Arts

National Endowment of the Arts, otherwise known as NEA, is facing a critical

juncture. President Trump has decided to cut the program as part of the way for

funding his other programs, such as the military. On NEAs internet home page they

immediately address this problem by posting a message that they are not in fact

closed. Given as how they are a federal agency, they cannot advocate for funding.

In a message to the general public, Chairman Jane Chu advised that NEA

would continue business as usual and will do so until a new budget is enacted by

Congress (Source: NEA). She also had the following to say: "We are disappointed

because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages

in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every

Congressional District in the nation." According to Americans for the Arts, NEA's

annual appropriation helps to support a $730 billion arts and culture industry, 4.8

million jobs and a $26 billion trade surplus for the nation (Source: NPR.org). NEAs

current budget represents .004 percent of the federal budget (Source: NEA).

Defending the cutting of NEA was Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of

Management and Budget. His rationale for the cuts was simple. He didnt believe

that he could look at taxpayers and tell them that funding for the Corporation for

Public Broadcasting (another publicly funded creative / arts program) was more

important than them (the taxpayers) (Source: CBS).

NEA as a program has artistic value. It is a way for people of all ages and

locations to learn and practice the arts. NEA also represents over 22 different

programs that it helps to fund and creates a positive impact. NEA is an organization

that has created positive outreach in places that might not have had them before.

Arts and culture have long been integral parts of society, from Homers Oddessey to

the more recent success of Hamilton, the Broadway play. It is also played out in the

movies and plays that society in general enjoys spending a weekend evening out.

NEA is part of that. It has helped generate revenue and created topics for


NEA is also an interesting case because, if adjust for inflation, its budget

would be approximately $300 million dollars now (it is $147 million now). That only

represents a fraction of the U.S. budget. The U.S. budget is mainly allocated to

mandates such as Social Security or Medicare for with money being allotted for the

military. President Trump has proposed a budget with an increase of over $50 billion

for defense. There are several wars being fought which are taking money and

resources to fight. However, it would seem as though an argument could be made

that funding for NEA and the programs it provides make a plausible case for NOT

being cut.

There is always disagreement about what programs to cut or decrease or

increase funding. Not all programs can be funded at optimum levels. Each

President decides which programs to fund and then sends his recommendations to

Congress to be debated and decided by the different members who listen to their

district constituents and decides which programs are most important to them.
NEA, for the last five years, has had approximately the same budget ($147

million). This is changing now that there is a new President who want to increase

budgeting for defense by billions of dollars and building a wall alongside the border

of U.S. Mexico. However, the question becomes if those changes should come at

the expense of a program like NEA.

Source:nationalpriorities.org / OMB National Priorities Project
FY 2017 Discretionary Spending

Military in billions
Other in billions

Source: OMB
Source: Consequencesofsound.net