President hands Congress FY18 budget proposal with steep arts cuts

May 24, 2017

As predicted in his FY18 budget outline earlier this year, the President's full budget proposal released yesterday calls for closing down the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), along with deep cuts to in-school and afterschool funding and State Department cultural exchange programs. The budget also proposes zeroing out the $27 million arts in education program and the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant--a block grant created with bipartisan support under the Every Student Succeeds Act--at the U.S. Department of Education. Overall, the budget proposes a $54 billion cut in non-defense discretionary spending, and an increase of the same amount in non-discretionary defense spending. The budget also reiterates the Trump Administration's outline of tax reform proposals, which would affect charitable giving.

As the League has reported, Congressional leaders have been voicing bipartisan support for the NEA, not only in public statements made in recent months, but over the past two years of funding proposals. The Administration says it is proposing shutting the NEA down, "given the notable funding support provided by private and other public sources and because the Administration does not consider NEA activities to be core Federal responsibilities." However, earlier this month, Congress affirmed the unique value of federal support for the arts, approving a $2 million increase in funding for the NEA in FY17 and specifying that priority be given to, "providing services and grant funding for projects, productions, or programs that encourage public knowledge, education, understanding, and appreciation of the arts."

Like with all presidential budgets, this proposal is just one step in the process of funding the federal government. Action by Congress will, as always, determine the future funding levels for the NEA, other cultural agencies, and a host of programs and agencies that provide valuable services to the public. Coordinated advocacy by stakeholders in communities across the country can and will make a difference in ensuring continued support. 
What you can do
Your ongoing advocacy is making a difference. Orchestras have been meeting with policy leaders and making their voices heard in partnership with the broader arts community. Keep up this great work!

  • Contact your members of Congress and ask their support for the NEA in FY18. Be sure to personalize your message; let policy makers know how your orchestra is engaged civically, and tell them what kind of ripple-effect a loss of NEA funding would mean for their community.
  • Partner with others and continue to advocate locally. There are a wide range of policy issues that affect the arts, and joining with civic groups and leaders strengthens the force of your local advocacy. Make plans for your local arts coalition to have an in-person visit. Check out our 2017 Calendar of Advocacy Opportunities to engage your policymakers when they are back at home. This relationship building can ensure your officials know your orchestra's value in the community.
  • Pick up the phone to call the district office. 
  • Post on your elected officials' social media pages. To find the social media and district office information, simply enter your zip code here, and select your official.

Keep talking to us
Knowing how your conversations with elected officials and their staff are going helps us to better represent all of you here in D.C. Feel free to fill us in after the fact, or call us to help prepare for a meeting. Better yet, let us know if you have a useful connection to a policymaker. In other words, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  at any time.