Friday, July 24, 2009

Washington Decides on Arts Funding

At the end of July there will be a vote on the Senate floor that is based upon the Fiscal Year 2010 Interior Appropriations Bill. This bill includes funds for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) set at $161.3 million, the same level proposed by President Obama in his budget sent to Congress in May. The companion legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June would allocate $170 million for the arts endowment in the coming year, an increase of $15 million over the NEA's current budget.

The differences between the two bills will be worked out in negotiations by a House-Senate conference committee; Maine’s Senator Susan Collins is a member of this important committee.

Maine artists receive over half of their government funding from the NEA, and an increase of $15 million nationally would have an impact locally, not only through direct grants from the NEA to Maine's artists and arts organizations, but also through an increase to the allocation that the Maine Arts Commission receives through their partnership agreement with the NEA.

Senator Collins and her staff are keen supporters of the arts, and are always willing to listen to the viewpoints of their constituents. If you should ever need to contact her office regarding arts related policy making, the best person to contact is Priscilla Hanley (202) 224-2523, or you can call their main office at (202) 224-2523.

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