Arts Action Alert 1-30-17: Update on federal budget issues concerning the arts and creativity

The latest on federal budget issues concerning the arts and creativity.
The past ten days have brought rapid-fire news about the federal budget, including support for the arts, humanities and public broadcasting.   Specifically, it has been reported that members of the Trump administration met with career White House staff members to “outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy,” including the possibility of   eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
What’s important to know?
  • First, you should know that Americans for the Arts’ (AFTA) Arts Action Fund documented the arts policy positions of every Presidential candidate during the elections just past. When President-Elect Trump was interviewed about the Arts last spring, he said, “…supporting and advocating for appreciation of the arts is important to an informed and aware society. As President, I would take on that role.” Specifically regarding appropriations for the National Endowment for the Arts, President-Elect Trump said, “The Congress, as representatives of the people, make the determination as to what the spending priorities ought to be.”   There are many strong supporters of the arts, on both sides of the aisle, in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
  • Second, Arts Wisconsin is part of an active, expert, integrated network of statewide and national organizations and leaders paying attention to and working for the arts, arts education, and creative economy.   We are all “on” this right now.
  • Finally, it’s early in the game when it comes to details and concrete plans, although that doesn’t mean we are not taking this seriously.  A full executive budget proposal is expected towards the end of Trump’s first 100 days – by the end of April – with a preliminary version out within the first 45 days.  There are many decision-making points in our federal process including the White House, Congressional budget resolution, Congressional appropriations committees, and the full House and Senate. The federal budget process requires extensive public participation, so each of these branches and stages are touchpoints for advocacy.Whether or not these policy recommendations will come to pass is a big unknown, but we’re still going to pay careful attention and act as needed.
How would this impact Wisconsin?
Current funding for the NEA is $146 million. 40% of all NEA funds are sent directly to state arts agencies – Wisconsin’s state agency is the Wisconsin Arts Board – which are then matched by state dollars.  The Arts Board provides grant funding for organizations and projects throughout the state, and technical assistance and leadership development to people making the arts happen on the local level.    The combined federal and state funding supports programs that positively impact the economy, education and quality of life for everyone, everywhere in Wisconsin.  Direct grants from the Endowment also go to Wisconsin arts organizations.
In addition, the National Endowment for the Humanities provides funds for the Wisconsin Humanities Council and humanities projects throughout the state, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a critical partner for Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television.
What can you do?
It’s important to be positive, pro-active, and vigilant.  Investment in the arts and creativity is a proven strategy for building better lives and strengthening communities in Wisconsin and beyond.   It’s never been more important to focus on what matters – inspiration, imagination, creativity, community.
Please feel free to get in touch with your comments and ideas.  We’ll stay ahead of news and stay proactive to make the case for the arts locally and nationally as events unfold, and will keep you informed of news and actions.


Anne Katz, Executive Director
Arts Wisconsin
A sampling of media on the issue:

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