Saving The National Endowment for the Arts: Why Publicly Funded Art Serves as a Public Good
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The presented body of work explores the history and need for the National Endowment of the Arts. The NEA has consistently represented only about 0.015% (one one-hundredth of one percent) of the federal budget since its creation in 1965. With the NEA at risk for elimination, this leaves the nonprofit arts sector, from schools to museums to local theatres, with much uncertainty. The proposal presents a way to not only including the federal budget for the NEA in the coming year, but expand the funding by 60%, or $93 million. This will involve the creation of a new granting agency called the United States Arts Fund for Arts and Culture, which will be funded by revenue generated from the U.S. Media and Entertainment Industry. This endowment would be set aside strictly for state and local art agencies and would be replenished every ten years. In order to reach the goal of providing $4 million to each state art agency in 2022, approximately 0.35% of revenue from the Media and Entertainment Industry, or $2.48 billion, will need to be contributed to the endowment once every ten years. This equates to a microscopic $248 million of revenue set aside per year. Based on the analyses presented, a conclusion was reached to recommend the aforementioned proposal. The proposal would bring guaranteed federal funding to the NEA, and would cost the for-profit Media and Entertainment Industry a miniscule amount of its revenue every ten years. The NEA, created with the intent to be the nation’s cultural leader, has not been given enough resources over time to do more than influence the range of possible outcomes, and is not currently in the position to set cultural policy or dramatically restructure the distribution of arts support in the United States. With the enactment of the outlined proposal, the NEA will be given this opportunity, and public art will continue to be available to low-income and rural communities, in both classrooms, as well as within the local economy through museums, theatres, and cultural centers.