NEA likely to get small funding increase

19 February 2002, USA

The US National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has been offered an increase of US$2 million in President George W Bush’s proposed budget, recently presented to Congress, bringing the organisation's total to $117 million for the fiscal year of 2003. The NEA’s funding was increased by $10 million for the current fiscal year – a measure to be maintained for 2003 – but, according to its own records, the endowment's allocation has fallen dramatically since 1995, when it peaked at $162.3 million. Two-million-dollar increases have also been proposed by Bush for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH; bringing its total to $127 million) and for the Office of Museum Services (bringing its total to $29 million). The Office of Library Services, meanwhile, is to be offered an increase of $13.6 million – much of it destined for professional development programs for librarians. 'We are pleased at the President's commitment to the arts, especially given the increased pressure on the budget this year,' commented Eileen B Mason, who was appointed the NEA’s Acting Chair following the sudden death of Chair Michael Hammond after only one week in the job. 'The arts are an important source of hope and inspiration,’ she continued, 'We will endeavor to recognise and support significant projects of artistic excellence that enrich the lives of all Americans, and to strengthen educational activity in the arts, especially for our children.' Representatives from the NEH and NEA are scheduled to appear before congressional committees in March to discuss the proposed increases. President Bush has also announced his choices for the National Council on the Arts, the NEA’s advisory body. The nominated members include art critic David Gelernter, educator Teresa Lorenzo and designer Maribeth Walton McGinley. The nominations will be reviewed by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and, if confirmed, the new councillors will be appointed for a term of six years. Further information regarding the NEA is available online at: