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U.S. House hikes arts and humanities budgets

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The House of Representatives today approved $170-million budgets for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2010: a 9.7% increase for each over their current $155 million. The vote was 254 to 173 for the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies budget bill, which includes the two cultural grant-making agencies.

Having won a $50-million battle in the Senate earlier this year, arts lobbyists plan another push in the upper chamber -- this time to pass $170-million operating budgets for the NEH and NEA.

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The issue now: the Senate Appropriations Committee’s budget proposal for the cultural agencies calls for $161.3 million each (President Obama’s budget proposal included $161.3 million for the NEA and $171.3 million for the NEH).

So Americans for the Arts, the nonprofit advocacy group that helped lead the charge on Capitol Hill to convince senators that $50 million for arts jobs would have an economically stimulative effect, is again calling on arts lovers to send a message, this time for the $170-million operating budgets.

The House also approved $25 million for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, an increase of $3.7 million, and $634.2 million for the Smithsonian Institution, a $40.8-million hike.

-- Mike Boehm

Related stories: Can Rocco Landesman make the NEA relevant again?

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