Reagan Will Seek to Cut Arts Budget : Opera, Music, Dance Would Take Brunt of 11.7% Reduction

Associated Press

President Reagan plans to propose an 11.7% budget cutback for the National Endowment for the Arts, with programs supporting opera, music and dance absorbing most of the reductions, it was announced today.

White House House spokesman Larry Speakes confirmed a report in the New York Times that Reagan will request $144.5 million for the arts agency in fiscal 1986, about $500,000 more than he sought for the current fiscal year but down from the $163.7 million appropriated by Congress.

"I don't look for any change" in the plan, Speakes said.

The program for opera and musical theater would be cut by 18.3%, to $4.9 million, while the music program would be cut 15%, to $13 million, and dance would be cut 13.5%, to $7.7 million.

Pell Opposes Cuts Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.), who helped write the legislation that created the endowment as an independent federal agency in 1965, said he will oppose any such cuts as threatening "a financial crisis for many, if not most, of our nation's cultural institutions."

Pell said through a spokesman that the last few years have shown that "the private sector is unable to fill the gap created by cuts in federal support for the arts."

He added that "the arts and the public's participation in them would suffer seriously were such a cut to be recommended."

Since Reagan's first year in office in 1981, when he proposed to slash the arts agency's budget by one-half--to $88 million--the President has sought to reduce arts spending, but in each year since 1981 Congress has actually boosted the endowment's budget.

Last year, Congress raised arts spending from $162 million to $163.7 million, rejecting a Reagan request to scale the arts budget back to $143.9 million.

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