In case you missed it, yesterday, April 8th, was the 26th annual Arts Advocacy Day in Washington DC, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Guns N’Roses drummer Matt Sorum were on hand to draw attention to the plight of the arts and the value of an arts education. So where do we stand right now in terms of government funding of the arts? In the FY 2014 federal budget proposal, funding level request for the National Endowment for the Arts are up slightly from last year with a proposed level of $154.3 million and the Institute of Museum and Library Services hope to see an increase of 2.7% for a budget of $225,812,538. The 5% sequester cuts will reduce $7 million from the NEA and NEH each, $12 million for the IMLS, and $22 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (source: Americans for the Arts). California is ranked last nationally in per capita state spending on government grants to the arts but Assembly bill (AB 580) by Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks) hopes to turn that around. AB 580 recently passed the committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media by a 4-2 vote and it is now heading to the Appropriations Committee. The bill allocates $75 million a year from the state’s general fund for the California Arts Council which currently receives $1 million in funding from the state’s general fund. It would seem that in recent years arts funding bills go here to die — 2005, 2007 and 2009 all saw arts funding bills shut down by the Assembly’s Appropriation Committee — so AB 580 has a hard fight ahead of it. The California Arts council spends less than $5.6 million a year but taxpayers contribute less than 20% of its funding — that’s 3 cents per person. (source: LA Times).
Here is a chart to give some historical perspective on government funding for the arts in the last 2 decades.