The Playgoer: Obama's Arts "Freeze"

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Friday, February 05, 2010

Obama's Arts "Freeze"

It should obviously not come as a surprise that one of the exceptions to the President's proposed "spending freeze" beginning next year will not be the National Endowment for the Arts.  In fact the proposed NEA budget in his 2011 plan is $6 million lower than the current level (still a paltry $167 mil).

Three different takes on the fate of the arts in the coming budget adjustments:

-Americans for the Arts head lobbyist Robert Lynch says this is bad news, plain and simple, and that the NEA should still keep pushing for that $200 million mark.

-Washington Post says things are all good, actually.  (Translation: could be worse, and be thankful you're getting anything in times like these.)

-LA Times reports that the philanthropic community will probably give a lot less if Obama's tax increases on their bracket limits their deductions, as is proposed.

There goes Chairman Rocco's hope that he would be the first NEA head to score more funding, I guess.  He must be thinking: I left Jujamcyn for this???  For a measely $160 mil I could produce three Spidermans!

UPDATE: Please do check out the link to George Hunka's blog he provides in Comments.  It's a video excerpt from the great old Britcom "Yes, Prime Minister" where an entire episode seems devoted to how much to fund/defund the Royal National Theatre!  (This was 1988, btw.)  It's a dazzlingly clever and witty depiction of the government/arts negotiations.  But this being Britain, still, and they're simply debating how much to increase the direct federal subsidy to a massive rep theatre, I can only sigh...we should have such problems.


Playgoer said...

Here's some more sobering perspective, from Lynch's statement: the $160-odd million NEA budget makes up "just a fraction of the $6.3 BILLION of direct expenditures for all arts nonprofits in the U.S."

George Hunka said...

Well then (the response might be), what's the problem? It's like complaining there's one less crumb on the floor.

Apropos, there's this from the 1988 TV series Yes, Prime Minister, which engages the issue from a specifically theatrical point-of-view as well.

Playgoer said...

Thanks so much for the link, George. Brilliant clip!