The Trump Administration released its 2019 budget plan today, and among the organizations that would receive significant budget cuts are the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, both of which supply grant money to arts institutions around America. The administration proposed similarly reduced levels of funding last year, but they were not adopted.
According to the new budget proposal, the NEA’s budget would be cut down to $29 million, and the NEH’s budget would be reduced to $42 million. Both organizations are currently budgeted at around $150 million; they account for well under 1 percent of the government’s budget.
“The Budget proposes to begin shutting down NEA in 2019, given the notable funding support provided by private and other public sources and because the Administration does not consider NEA activities to be core Federal responsibilities,” the budget proposal reads.
Long before he became president, Trump had been an outspoken opponent of the NEA. In 1999, when the Brooklyn Museum showed Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary (1996), a painting of the Virgin Mary that includes elephant dung, Trump and many other conservatives railed against the NEA, even though it had not funded the show. At the time, Trump told the Daily News that, were he to be president one day, he would “ensure that the National Endowment of the Arts stops funding of this sort.”
Despite Trump’s fervent opposition to the NEA and the NEH, Trump has not replaced Jane Chu, an Obama appointee, as chairman of the NEA. (William D. Adams resigned as chairman of the NEH this past May.) At one point last year, the actor Sylvester Stallone was reportedly being considered for the position, but he said at the time that he wouldn’t take on the role if it were offered to him.