Fate of the NEA May Depend on "Red State" House Members


Although details will likely will not be known until the Trump Administration's first budget proposal is issued, an early draft suggested that the Administration intends to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) entirely. Funding for the NEA and NEH have been political flashpoints for decades, since a series of provocative recipients angered the culture warriors of the 1980s. Funding for the two agencies was roughly slashed in half by the "Contract for America" era Congress, but in recent years funding has been relatively stable.

As Graham Bowley of the New York Times details, survival of the NEA and NEH may ultimately depend on support from Republicans, particularly from rural districts. Although many opponents developed an antipathy to the NEA based on a handful of controversial projects, the degree of support that these agencies provide to community projects and media such as local public television and radio is often overlooked.

As Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) suggests in the article, cutting funding for the NEA and NEH would most dramatically impact "red state" communities: “If [opponents] succeed, it will hurt rural America. New York will still have art shows. It will be rural stations that come off the air.”