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Trump Signs Bill Boosting the NEA and NEH Budgets He Wanted to Eliminate

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities will each receive about $153 million in federal funding in fiscal year 2018, around $3 million more than in 2017.

President Trump giving a speech on October 13, 2017 (official White House photo by D. Myles Cullen)
President Trump giving a speech on October 13, 2017 (official White House photo by D. Myles Cullen/Flickr)

After twice suggesting the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which are two of the largest sources of federal art funding, President Trump has signed an omnibus spending bill that slightly increases funding for both agencies.

The NEA and the NEH will each receive about $153 million in fiscal year 2018 — around $3 million more than their 2017 budgets of about $149 million.

Trump previously threatened to veto the $1.3 trillion spending bill, in part because it did not fully fund a wall on the US-Mexico border. “I will never sign another bill like this again,” Trump said.

In a short statement shared with Hyperallergic, the NEA said, “The National Endowment for the Arts is deeply appreciative of the support of members of Congress.”  The spending bill received bipartisan support, including the vocal support from a number of key Republicans, in the House and Senate.

President Trump proposed deep cuts to federal arts funding in 2017 and 2018, and suggested that the NEA and NEH be eliminated altogether in the near future. A wide range of lawmakers and organizations — most recently a coalition of 11 foundations — made statements in opposition to his proposal.

Government-funded arts organizations have often been targeted by advocates of limited government, although federal arts spending makes up a comparatively tiny portion of the budget. In 2016, approximately 0.004% of federal funding went to the NEA. That year, the states that received the largest share of NEA grant money were Vermont, Alaska, and Wyoming.

“With this funding, NEH will be able to aggressively support essential cultural infrastructure projects across the country,” Jon Parrish Peede, Senior Deputy Chairman of the NEH, said in a statement sent to Hyperallergic.

Echoing recent figures released by the NEA, which estimated that the arts contributed $763 billion to the US economy in 2015, Peede said, “Our federal dollars play a catalytic role in generating local investment and sustainable economic development.”

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