New Trump Budget Eliminates Arts, Humanities, Library Agencies

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — May 23, 2017 3 min read
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The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences would begin shutting down in 2018 if President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget, released today, is approved by Congress.

The $4.1 trillion budget, called “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” involves significant tax cuts, an increase in spending on the military and border security, and cuts to domestic programs like Medicaid along with the arts, humanities, and library agencies.

Trump’s initial budget proposal, released in March, involved cutting the endowments and IMLS, which support education programs around the country. Supporters breathed a sigh of relief when the endowments received extra funds through the end of 2017. (For more on the 2018 federal budget and education, check out Politics K-12.)

But Trump’s new budget again calls for the elimination of the agencies, asserting that the endowments are not “core federal activities” and that getting rid of the IMLS will likely not cause “a significant number” of libraries and museums to close.

The budget proposes funding the arts endowment at $29 million, down from the $150 million for 2017 approved in a continuing resolution three weeks ago; the humanities endowment at $42 million, down from $150 million in 2017; and the IMLS at $23 million, down from $230 million in 2017. That’s just enough money for the agencies to close their doors in 2018.

Of the IMLS, the budget says that “it is unlikely the elimination of IMLS would result in the closure of a significant number of libraries and museums” as the fund supports discrete, short-term projects.

Of the arts endowment, the budget argues that there is already significant private support for the arts:

Likewise, the budget notes that funds for the humanities are provided by other private entities:

Advocates who support the agencies noted that this budget still requires Congressional approval.

In a statement, Stephen Kidd, the director of the National Humanities Alliance, said: “We are disappointed that the Trump administration has followed through on its plan to call for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is important to remember, however, that the administration’s budget request is only advisory, and Congress will ultimately make decisions about funding. In recent years, the NEH has received strong bipartisan support in Congress, including the increased funding for FY 2017 announced just three weeks ago.”

Julie Todaro, the president of the American Libraries Association, said in a statement that the organization plans to work with Congress to preserve funding for the IMLS. “To those who say that the nation cannot afford federal library funding, the American Library Association, American businesses, and millions of Americans say emphatically we cannot afford to be without it.”

“America’s more than 120,000 public, school, academic, and special libraries are visited more than 1.4 billion times a year by hundreds of millions of Americans in every corner of the nation,” she continued. “In 2013, 94 percent of Americans said that having a public library improves the quality of life in a community and the same percentage of parents said that libraries are important for their children.”

Just yesterday, the director of the National Endowment for the Humanities announced his resignation.

On social media on Tuesday, the endowments continue to Tweet about their programs and accomplishments.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.