In early February, President George W. Bush released his fiscal year 2006 budget, which calls for level funding for both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
In spite of the level funding, the budget includes a proposed redistribution of $6.5 million that would result in a 30 percent cut to the NEA Challenge America program, which distributes grants for arts education and improved access to the arts, especially in underserved communities. The president’s request for a 12 percent funding boost for the Office of Museum Services, however, is encouraging.
Unfortunately, the president’s budget also proposes to eliminate funding for the Department of Education’s Arts in Education programs. This action would put at risk programs such as arts collaborations with schools, professional development for teachers, and arts programs for youths in underserved communities. In the past, funding for these programs has been restored by the Senate and accepted by the House in conference committee.
The president’s budget is the first step in the appropriations process. While his proposal serves as framework for setting the nation’s budget, Congress has the power to set its own priorities and change these funding levels. You can make your voice heard by writing to your member of Congress and urging him or her to increase funding for arts and cultures and to restore funding for arts in education programs.
The U.S. Treasury Department has lifted the embargo that prevented the circulation of books and journal articles from authors who live in Iran, Cuba, or Sudan. These regulations prohibited literary, scientific, political, and artistic works, as well as collaborations among scholars, from being edited by U.S. publishers without government permission.