The National Endowment for the Arts will get a 16% budget increase in 2008, to $144.7 million, under an appropriation bill signed this week by President Bush. The funding boost continues a gradual upward trend for the agency during the Bush administration, recouping precipitous losses under President Clinton.
Still, the federal agency, which makes grants to individual artists, cultural organizations and state arts agencies, remains one of the government’s poor relations in terms of real buying power: The $150 million the NEA received in 1979 was worth more than $434 million in today’s dollars. NEA funding peaked in 1992 at $176 million (worth $264 million today), then dwindled to $97.6 million in 2000.
-- Mike Boehm