In advance of the November 2004 United States presidential election, CAA would like to provide our members with information on where the Democratic and Republican candidates stand vis-a-vis federal funding for the arts and humanities.
George W. Bush, the Republican Party candidate for president, has not once requested a budget cut to either the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) or the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) during his tenure as president. His first budget, in fiscal year (FY) 2002, called for level funding for both the NEA and NEH. His second budget (FY 2003) called for a modest cost-of-living increase for each of the endowments. His third budget (FY 2004) included a $26 million increase for the NEH’s budget and level funding for the NEA. The increase to the NEH’s budget in FY 2004 funded the We the People initiative, which is designed to encourage and strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history, culture, and ideas. The president’s fourth budget (FY 2005) includes an $18 million increase for the NEA and a $27 million increase for the NEH. The requested increase for the NEA will fund a major new initiative, American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius, which will combine arts presentations with education programming to provide Americans with access to their cultural and artistic legacy. The requested increase for the NEH will continue to fund the We the People initiative.
John F. Kerry, the Democratic Party candidate for president, opposed efforts to reduce funding to the NEA and the NEH in the mid-1990s. The Senate last voted on an amendment to cut funding for the NEA in 2000; as with similar proposals in previous years, Kerry voted against the amendment, which was rejected 27 to 73. According to the Kerry campaign, he has secured millions of dollars in federal funds for arts and cultural institutions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts while serving in the U.S. Senate, which benefited the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Old Sturbridge Village, the John Adams Collection at the Boston Public Library, and the Museum of Science, Boston.