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The United States has approved an increase in the budgets of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2009, NEA’s funding was $155 million, in 2010 it will total $167.5 million. (via ArtsBeat & Culture Monster)

According to the American for the Arts, Earlier this year, the U.S. House recommended $170 million for NEA, while the Senate proposes $161.3 million. The final funding scheme was announced this past week. As a result of the increase, the NEA will be funded at its highest level in 16 years.

The bill also includes increases for the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. “Overall, federal cultural funding continues to see incremental, but significant, increases,” according to a statement from the Americans for the Arts.

Gulf-based media outlet Al Jazeera is reporting that the Gulf States are experiencing a cultural explosion, which includes the recent launch of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival and the 2012 opening of branches of the Guggenheim & the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. The liberals among us can only hope that an increase awareness of human rights will soon follow in these autocratic states. (via HuffPost)

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Nouvel tower to go up next to MoMA. (Atelier Jean Nouvel/Associated Press)

New York City approved the new MoMA tower, which was originally planning to be as high as the Empire State Building but will now be 200 feet shorter and comparable in height to the Chrysler Building. (via NY Times)

The Gotham Gazette asks how Mayor Michael Bloomberg is doing in his support of the city’s arts community. Some notable points: Bloomberg’s administration has streamlined the funding process, made it more transparent, and more arts non-profits and cultural groups receive funding from the city than before. That’s not to say there haven’t been major failures, most notably arts education in New York public schools.

For those in Brooklyn, city counselor Diana Reyna spoke to a small group of “arts-identified” 34th City Council District residents (i.e. Bushwick, Brooklyn). BushwickBK reports on the meeting, which may be one of the first attempts by a politician to familiarize themselves with the issues that impact the local arts community.

Across the country, the recession is pushing some San Francisco galleries from some traditional gallery zones to newer districts, which can only be a good thing in our book. (via SF Chronicle)

Back to New York, November’s big auctions will undoubtedly inspire a flurry of articles and posts about the future health of the art industry. The season kicks off on Tuesday with Christie’s Impressionist and modern art evening sale, featuring 40 works that are expected to gross a total of more than $68 million. On Wednesday, Sotheby’s 60-lot evening sale is estimated at up to $160m. Both sales are the smallest we’ve seen in years. (via Crain’s NY, Financial Times & Reuters)

Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.