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Budget Would Increase Taxpayer Funded Art Despite Trump’s Wishes

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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The $1.3 trillion budget being considered by the House of Representatives would increase funding for arts and humanities endowments, despite President Donald Trump’s recommendation to eliminate the agencies entirely.

The so-called omnibus, a 2,232 page bill that incorporates appropriations with a variety of other bills, gives $152 million each to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 2018, a $3 million increase from current levels for each agency.

During the first full year of Trump’s presidency both endowments mostly operated as it has in the past. The current bill also sets priorities for the NEA, specifying that the endowment will prioritize arts grants to underserved populations, “including urban minorities, who have historically been outside the purview of arts and humanities programs” due to high poverty or geographic isolation.

The bill, if passed, further directs the NEA to ensure “that priority is given to providing services or awarding financial assistance for projects, productions, workshops, or programs that will encourage public knowledge, education, understanding, and appreciation of the arts.”

The most recent NEA grant awards included projects to fund a literary journal dedicated to “making literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive,” theater programs dedicated to social justice, and a $35,000 grant to collect and archive cowboy poetry, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Trump’s 2018 budget wish lists for both 2018 and 2019 recommended the agencies be eliminated, “given the notable funding support provided by private and other public sources and because the Administration does not consider NEA activities to be core Federal responsibilities.”

The House must vote to approve the bill before sending it to the Senate, which will have less than two days to consider it before the government runs out of funds and shuts down at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

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