Obama budget proposal calls for slight increase in NEA funding

Budget proposal by @BarackObama calls for slight increase in funding for @NEAarts

President Obama's proposed budget for fiscal 2016 calls for slight increases in federal funding for cultural institutions, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. But the proposed increases wouldn't come close to reversing the cuts experienced by those groups during the previous five years.

The proposed 2016 budget calls for NEA funding to rise by approximately 1.3% to just under $148 million, while the NEH would see a slightly smaller percentage increase in funding. The agencies were allotted about $146 million in federal funding each for fiscal 2015.

Federal funding for the NEA was as high as $167.5 million in 2010, but appropriations declined in the following years, to $138.4 million in 2013. NEA funding rose to $146 million in 2014 and stayed constant for 2015.

Obama's budget proposal, which was announced on Monday, still faces counter-proposals and negotiations in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Arts funding accounts for a minuscule part of the federal budget -- usually less that one-tenth of 1 percent.

The White House's 2016 budget proposal also calls for increases in funding for the Smithsonian, National Gallery of Art and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 

The NEA is charged with disbursing grants for the arts and other cultural organizations throughout the country. For fiscal 2014, the NEA said it made 2,300 awards totaling $116 million.

Last year, Obama named Jane Chu to chair the organization. She previously served as president and chief executive of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo. 

The NEA had lacked an official chairman since Rocco Landesman stepped down from the job in 2012. 

The agency said in an official statement released this week that new funds would help to expand the NEA/Walter Reed Healing Arts Partnership, a program of the NEA and the Department of Defense that incorporates arts therapy into treatment plans for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress and other disorders.

Chu said that it was "heartening that President Obama has put forward additional resources to help our returning troops deal with the challenges they face as a result of their service to our country."

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT    

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