NEA Back in the Stimulus

It was incredible to run into Jim Sitter (consultant and the only lobbyist in America for literature) late Friday night at AWP and find out that miraculously, the proposed $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts had made it back into the stimulus package. Jim’s usually the man with the bad news . . . and even after he told me, I only half believed this was true.

But as reported in the New York Times, it is:

The extra $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts is a significant boost for the agency, whose annual budget, without the additional money, was $145 million. The bill calls for 40 percent of the new money to be distributed by formula to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations. The remaining 60 percent will be set aside for individual arts projects competing for Endowment grants.

It’s even more rewarding to hear that Representative Louise Slaughter—from New York’s 28th district, which includes Rochester—was one of the people who made this happen.

Sure, not everything arts people wanted was reinserted into the bill. Pieces of the Coburn amendment are still there, including restriction that no stimulus money can be spent on zoos, aquariums, and swimming pools. But still, as others have said, there might be money from other pieces of the bill (such as education funding) that end up benefiting artists and the arts in general.

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