Trump’s Budget Calls for Shutting the National Endowment for the Arts

Terence P. Jeffrey | May 24, 2017 | 10:03am EDT
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(From the cover of the 2017 Guide to the National Endowment for the Arts.)

( - The budget that President Trump presented to Congress yesterday calls for “shutting down” the National Endowment for the Arts, beginning in fiscal 2018 by slashing 80 percent of its funding.

“The Budget proposes to begin shutting down the National Endowment for the Arts in 2018, 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,” says an administration report on the “Major Savings and Reforms” in the budget proposal.

The NEA became the focus of controversy in the late 1980s, when the federal tax dollars it doled out in grants went to exhibit the photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe (which the Washington Post said in a 1989 report the “included sadomasochistic and homoerotic images”) and to support the work of Andres Serrano, who produced a photograph--“Piss Christ”—that depicted a crucifix submerged in urine.

“Established in 1965, the NEA uses partnerships with State arts agencies, other Federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, to support arts learning, cultural heritage, and increasing access to the arts across the country,” says Trump’s budget proposal.

“In 2014, NEA funding represented just four percent of total public and private support for the arts in the United States,” it says.

Under the budget proposal and its plan to "begin shutting down" the NEA, NEA funding would go from $148 million in fsical 2017 to $29 million in fiscal 2018, which begins on Oct. 1.

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