Federal Funding Issues

Updated 3-17-17

NEA/NEH/CPB Funding in Wisconsin

  1. Between fiscal years 2010 and 2016, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded approximately $31 million in grant money to support arts and culture projects in Wisconsin. The NEH gave a bigger share of that (about $10.6 million) than the NEA ($9 million). (Why is there one for the arts and one for the humanities, and how are they different? Here’s an explanation.)
  2. The Wisconsin Arts Board received $817,600 for FY2017 through the NEA’s State Partnership Agreement.  (NEA State and Regional Fact Sheet)
    • A portion of this funds the administration of the Wisconsin Arts Board, and the balance is awarded in grants from the Arts Board to arts and community organizations throughout the state
    • By law, 40% of all NEA funding must go to the states. The amount is determined by population and upon review of their state grant application, renewed every 3 years.
  3. NEA is the only arts funder in America, public or private, that supports the arts in 50 states, DC and the US territories.
  4. NEA funding goes deep into communities around Wisconsin, most often serving outreach and engagement programs to ensure access to the arts for all.
  5. The NEA’s budget is $148 million—just 0.004 percent of the federal budget and 47 cents per capita (less than the current cost of a first class USPS stamp).
  6. NEA grants provide a significant return on investment of federal dollars with $1 of NEA direct funding leveraging up to $9 in private and other public funds, resulting in $500 million in matching support in 2016.
  7. The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are sister agencies to the NEA. The Wisconsin Humanities Council funded by federal dollars and depends on that support for its very existence as they provide programs and grants that deepen our understanding of ourselves and our world.
  8. Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television receive funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to support diverse programs and services that inform, educate, enlighten and enrich the public — an invaluable service that deserves the support of all good men and women.

Rebuttals to Inaccurate Arguments Against the National Endowment for the Arts, from Americans for the Arts
The Heritage Foundation formulated a number of arguments against the NEA decades ago. These arguments are listed below with corresponding rebuttals.

  • Federal investment in the arts is negligible; they’ll never miss it.  NEA is the single largest national funder of nonprofit arts in the U.S.
  • Federal investment in the arts discourages charitable giving.  NEA grants help leverage a 9 to 1 match in private charitable gifts and other state and local public funding.
  • Federal government must reduce its budget and cannot afford the luxury of the arts.  The Federal government cannot afford to NOT support the arts. With only a $146 million annual appropriations, the NEA investments in the arts helps contribute to a $704 billion economic arts and culture economic industry, contributing 4.2 percent of the annual GDP and supporting 4.7 million jobs that yields a $24 billion trade surplus for the country.
  • Federal funding is welfare for cultural elitists.  Forty percent of NEA-supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhood.
  • Federal funding of the arts only benefits the major arts institutions in large cities.  NEA funding reaches small, rural towns through its “Our Town” grants and specifically helps our wounded soldiers and veterans with effective arts therapy.
  • Federal government shouldn’t pick winners and losers. It lowers the quality of American art.  Government bureaucrats do not choose grant winners. It is done by peer review panels representing highly respected arts practitioners and lay people.
  • NEA will fund pornography and blasphemy. NEA does not fund art that specifically attempts to offend people. Its goal is to fund the highest quality art that can serve the most number of people, especially those living in underserved areas.
  • There is no federal role in investing in the arts.  Most every modern country in the world identifies an important role for the arts to thrive in their country in order for their people to express themselves, their culture, and their way of life to others.
  • There is no Constitutional justification for the federal government to support the arts.  Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution specifically authorizes Congress to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”