July 13, 2011

Arts Spending Cut as 2012 Federal Budget Work Begins

The House Appropriations Committee, which pushed for deep cuts in federal spending in 2011, is starting to signal which programs it hopes to trim in 2012.

Among the first casualties in the nonprofit world: spending on the arts.

The key Republican-led committee, which is now drafting a number of budget bills, on Tuesday adopted legislation that would reduce spending on the National Endowment for the Arts from just under $155-million in 2011 to $135-million next fiscal year.

Americans for the Arts, an advocacy group, complained that the 13-percent cut would be the biggest the agency had suffered in 16 years and was more severe than the 7-percent cut in overall spending outlined in the legislation, which also proposes budgets for the Departments of Interior and Environment and other agencies.

The arts agency—which provides money to states to distribute to theaters, museums, and other arts groups—also saw its budget cut in 2011. It had received $167.5-million in 2010.

As a result, if the committee's plan is approved, the agency's budget would be more than 19-percent smaller than it was in 2010.

The Appropriations Committee is still crafting the legislation that will have the biggest impact on nonprofit groups and the people they help—a bill covering spending on health and human services, education, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.