News

LOS ANGELES- The three federal agencies devoted to making arts and cultural grants will take an 11.2% collective hit under the budget deal that institutes the largest spending cut in U.S. history.

The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services will be faced with reining in their grant making between now and Sept. 30, when the 2010-11 budget year ends. Their spending for the coming fiscal year will depend on a budgeting process that is expected to turn into a titanic battle between Republicans who are calling for massive cuts and no tax increases, and the Obama administration and its Democratic allies in congress, who want a combination of cuts and higher tax payments for high-income earners.

The NEA and NEH each will take a $12.5-million cut this year, from $167.5 million to $155 million -– a 7.5% reduction. Spending at the IMLS will decrease from $282.2 million to $237.9 million, a drop of 15.7%.

The National Gallery of Art saw its $111-million allocation reduced by $8 million, a 7.2% cut, and the State Department’s spending for “educational and cultural exchange programs” aimed at improving the nation’s foreign relations was reduced from $635 million to $600 million, a 5.5% cut.

The advocacy group Americans for the Arts issued a statement Tuesday saying it was “heartened” that cuts to the NEA and NEH were “more sensible and proportional” than the 26% reduction that House Republicans passed earlier this year, but which the Democratic-controlled Senate did not OK. Also, Americans for the Arts noted, an “Art in Education” program that had been in danger of elimination has survived, albeit with its budget reduced from $40 million to $25.5 million. While acknowledging current constraints, the group said, “the nation would be better with a more robust investment in nonprofit arts” than what’s left following the cuts.

Funding was not affected at the Smithsonian Institution, whose $761-million allocation is by far the largest federal investment in the arts and culture, or at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where this year’s federal support for operations and renovations totals $36.8 million.