New budget plan cuts NEA and NEH 5.6% but boosts Smithsonian


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The National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities each will see a 5.6% budget reduction in fiscal 2012 under a spending bill passed Friday in the House that’s expected to prevent a feared government shutdown.

Under the bill, each agency would have $146.3 million to spend during the budget year that began in October, down from $155 million. It’s the second cut this year for the two grant-making agencies, which began 2011 with budgets of $167.5 million. The combined cuts now total 12.7%.


Americans for the Arts, the national advocacy group that lobbies to maximize arts spending -– or at least to minimize arts-spending cuts -– said that $146.3 million is what President Obama had penciled in in his original budget proposal for the NEA and the NEH, representing a compromise between the $155 million suggested by the Senate and the $135 million proposed by the House during earlier subcommittee negotiations over the budget.

The Senate passed the spending bill Saturday morning, and it now moves to President Obama for his signature.

The NEA and NEH spread the wealth to the provinces, so to speak. Meanwhile, the arts agencies that Washingtonians (such as members of Congress) are best positioned to enjoy won’t be absorbing cuts under the proposal.

The Smithsonian Institution’s operating budget would rise a smidgen, from $636.1 million to $636.5 million, and its budget for capital improvements would rise from $125 million to $175 million, partly to accommodate the 2012 start of construction on the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The National Gallery of Art would get $114.1 million, up from $111 million. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ funding would remain level at $36.8 million for operations and renovations. RELATED:

House passes spending bill to avert government shutdown


NEA grants total $22.5 million, with $1.37 million for SoCal

Federal cultural grants agencies to lose 11.2% of funding under budget deal

-- Mike Boehm