Arts Under Fire

From Alabama to Wyoming, the National Endowment for the Arts supports a wide variety of programs in every state of the union. Sadly, it may all be coming to an end.

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ABOVE: Current logo for the National Endowment for the Arts

Created by the U.S. Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is an independent government agency that, according to its website, “gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities.” This is done largely through the awarding of grants, and since its inception, the NEA has given more than $5 billion dollars to various artists and arts organizations across the United States (it stopped giving grants to individual artists in the 1990’s).

Predictably, the agency is not without its critics, and throughout the years, many have objected to its choice of grant recipients and sought to defund it. While the NEA’s budget has shrunk over time, it is rumored that the next federal budget will eliminate it entirely. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen.

By the numbers: 

Total net cost of Department of Defense for 2015: $573.6 billion

Total net cost of Department of Education for 2015: $44.7 billion

Total net cost of Environmental Protection Agency for 2015: $8.6 billion

Source: U.S. Government Statement of Net Cost for the Year Ended September 30, 2015

 

National Endowment for the Arts 2015 budget: $146 million

Source: NEA 2015 Annual Report

 

Cost Trump Organization paid to redevelop former NEA headquarters: $200 million

Source: Trump International Hotel – Washington D.C.

 

Funded by the NEA:

Snow City Arts Foundation (aka Snow City Arts)

$20,000 Chicago, IL

To support Arts Education for Children and Youth in Hospitals. Professional teaching artists will provide workshops in creative writing, music, theater, media arts, and visual arts for children and youth in pediatric units in Chicago hospitals that work in conjunction with each student’s creative interests and abilities. Workshops happen either bedside or in the hospital-based Idea Labs, which house art supplies, art libraries, musical instruments, and electronic media equipment. Comprehensive progress reports are produced for each student and are sent to students’ schools for credit.

Focus: HOPE

$10,000 Detroit, MI

To support the Excel Photography Program. Students from underserved communities in Detroit will learn technical and artistic photographic skills from professional photographers using digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras. An exhibition of students’ work with accompanying artist biographies and statements will be featured at the Focus: HOPE Gallery throughout the program. The culminating activity for this project will include public photography installations on abandoned houses in Detroit neighborhoods and a graduation ceremony for students.

California Lawyers for the Arts, Inc.

$35,000 San Francisco, CA

To support artist residencies in county jails. The organization will provide technical assistance, recruitment and training of artists, and program outreach to local law enforcement. It will work with local arts agencies in several California communities to enable the inclusion of arts programming as a rehabilitative tool in county jails.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts FY 2017 Fall Grant Announcement