President Bush sent his FY 2009 budget request to Congress on Feb. 4, beginning the yearly appropriations process for, among many things, the nation’s cultural agencies and programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Office of Museum Services (OMS), Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and the Department of Education’s Arts in Education programs.
On the heels of signing the largest Congressionally-initiated funding increase for the arts in 28 years, President Bush has proposed a $16.3 million cut for FY 2009 for the NEA, from $144.7 million to $128.4 million.
For the eighth consecutive year, the President’s budget has eliminated funding for the Department of Education’s Arts in Education programs, which include funding for model arts programs and collaborations with schools, teacher professional development, and arts programs for at-risk youth. Arts literacy is as central to an educated citizenry as are reading, math, and science.
Also, the FY 2009 budget request calls for a rescission of $200 million in already-approved funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). As a trusted community resource, CPB uses the power of noncommercial television and radio to enrich the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services.
The President also asked for a slight cut to the NEH, from $144.7 to $144.3 million. Finally, and on a positive note, the President requested a funding boost of over $8 million for the Office of Museum Services, bringing the amount of funding available for grants to almost $40 million.
The President’s budget is the first step in the appropriations process. While it serves as an important framework, Congress has the power to set its own priorities and change these funding levels.
Arts advocates can make their voices heard by writing their members of Congress and urging them to increase funding for arts and culture and restore funding for arts in education programs. A customizable letter to send to your Members of Congress is available here, as well as several talking points to help you craft your message. In Washington, DC March 31 - April 1, 2008, Arts Advocacy Day 2008 will provide an opportunity to visit members of Congress face-to-face and urge them to support the arts.