America’s Diminishing Funding for the Arts
Updated: Mar 24
(CHARLOTTESVILLE, DAVINCI) - Trump's 3rd annual proposal to eliminate federal funding for the arts, which occurred most recently in 2018, raises this question; Should art be government funded?
In pursuit of the answer, we uncovered America's history of neglect towards federal funding for the arts.
States’ art funding distribution comes from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the federal agency in charge of public arts financing. The NEA’s annual budget, as of 2015, is $152,800,000. Of this budget, only 7.4% contributes to the state's annual spending. The other 92.6% comes from private funds, other state funds, line item appropriations, and legislative allotments. The latter is the largest source, being responsible for 67.7% of state's public arts budget. Legislative allotments, or “spending bills” are bills that request the use of government funds for specific spending. $152,800,000 sounds like a lot of money; however, America’s federal arts funding is one of the smallest.
According to research from the Arts Council of England, only 0.13% of public spending in the US contributes to the arts, whereas every other country included in the research spent at least four times as much, the most being 16%. The arts spending in the US evens out to about $5 per capita opposed to the average spending in the study ending up at $36 per capita.
When faced with the need for budget cuts in the US, the arts may be seen as expendable. However, the value of self expression within communities is often overlooked. Art can convey thoughts and ideas that would otherwise be difficult to express, and can be valuable to both the artist and the viewer. As many countries have already caught on too, expression is a true investment. Self expression can’t be assigned a value, but it’s a fact that it is more than nothing, despite what is being proposed by the current administration.