In Tuesday’s (2/2) Washington Post, Liza Mundy writes, “If Monday’s White House budget proposal tells us anything, it’s this: These are tough fiscal times for an arts-loving president. Should the Obama administration get its way, funding for the nation’s major arts and cultural institutions will stay largely flat, although a few organizations—including the Smithsonian Institution and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting—will see increases over what the president requested last year. In general, arts organizations seemed grateful that things didn’t turn out worse. …Two major grantmaking institutions—the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities—also saw their budget proposals hold flat. In each case, the president requested $161.3 million for 2011, the same amount requested last year. In 2010, both institutions eventually got more than that from Congress: $167.5 million. Looked at that way, the president’s request does indeed represent a decrease. Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts, an advocacy organization, criticized the NEA funding, pointing out that the agency is attempting to fund a new program, Our Town, which it hopes will use the arts to revitalize communities; in order to make the project happen, the agency will have to cannibalize funds for existing programs. …But Jim Leach, chairman of the NEH, said the funding decisions were ‘understandable.’ ”

Posted February 3, 2010