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Posted at 8:30 PM ET, 02/14/2011

President's budget reduces almost all cultural funding

By Jacqueline Trescott

For the proposed federal budget for fiscal 2012, released Monday, almost all of the agencies and museums that receive government dollars saw their checkbooks trimmed.

The budget sent to Capitol Hill by the administration is a starting point for discussions about the merits of government funding for the arts and humanities, as well as the value of initiatives the agencies fund. With some vocal members of the Republican-controlled House targeting the arts as excessive spending, the outcome of the budget requests is unclear.

The fiscal 2012 blueprint requests $146.2 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, a 13 percent decrease from its last approved budget of $167.5 million in fiscal 2010. The money for fiscal 2011 is contained in a continuing resolution but has not had final approval.

The National Endowment for the Humanities received the same $146.2 million request.

The Smithsonian Institution, which is a complex of 19 museums, as well as several research centers, was slated for $861.5 million in fiscal 2012. Of that request $125 million is restricted to the construction of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In fact, the suggested amount is a $5 million reduction from the total appropriated in fiscal 2010.

The funding request for the Kennedy Center, which receives federal funds for building maintenance and repairs, is $50.5 million, a decrease from $57.8 million in fiscal 2010.

At the National Gallery of Art, the funding for the repairs of the East Building facade are complete and the work is starting. So the budget needs are smaller, according to the administration. For fiscal 2012 the request is $138 million, down $29 million from fiscal 2010.

The administration requested $423 million for the National Archives and Records Administration, a decrease of 8.2 precent from its 2010 levels.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services was targeted for $242.6 million, compared to $282.2 million in fiscal 2010.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum saw a slight increase in the proposal, with its requested amount at $52.6 million.

The proposed budgets were criticized by the Americans for the Arts, a national organization that promotes the arts and lobbies for better funding. The organization characterized the cuts, especially the NEA reductions, as drastic.

"At a time when NEA dollars are the critical lifeline helping state and local budgets survive as philanthropic dollars are dwindling, this drastic reduction does not take into account the incredible return on investment those funds generate to federal, state and local treasuries," said Robert Lynch, the group's president. "While we are pleased that cultural institutions such as the Smithsonian received additional funds and that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting saw continued support from the president, we believe the administration has missed the mark with such a deep cut to the primary federal source for leveraging support for cultural programs and public and private funding to every state and community in our country."

By Jacqueline Trescott  | February 14, 2011; 8:30 PM ET
Categories:  Jacqueline Trescott, Kennedy Center, Museums, National Endowment for the Arts, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, national endowment for the humanities  | Tags:  Arts Budget, National Endowment for the Arts, National Gallery of Art, smithsonian Institution  
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