NEA increases 2003 funding by 12 million

February 11, 2002

Below is an article reporting that the NEA's proposed annual budget has been increased by 12 million dollars. That's 23 cents per year for each US citizen. Most people have more money than that floating around underneath their sofa cushions or on the floors of their cars. I tried to calculate 12 million as a percentage of the US Federal Budget of 2.13 trillion but the sum was so infinitesimal my small calculator couldn't do it. Rounded off I think it comes to comes to about 0.00005 percent of the budget, but I am not sure. The change is not even cosmetic. These numbers almost seem Orwellian. Or should I say Atwoodian?

Just for comparison, the military's funding has been increased by 50 billion this year, or 178 dollars a year for every US citizen.

That's 23 cents compared to 178 dollars. The military increase is thus 773 times higher than the arts increase. The military budget was already 3290 times larger than the NEA's. Now it will be 3790 times larger. 

See the article below and note how the absurdity of the whole situation is hardly noted. Ah, Mr. Orwell...

William Osborne

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Bush Requests $117 Million for NEA; Mason Steps in as Acting Chairman

By Molly Sheridan
2002 NewMusicBox

February 5, 2002-Yesterday President Bush requested a $117 million budget appropriation for the National Endowment for the Arts in Fiscal Year 2003. Though most media attention has been given to the political debate surrounding the President's proposed increases in defense spending and resulting cuts in other areas, this year's NEA request represents a $12 million increase over what the President requested in FY2002. 

Ultimately, Congress boosted last year's budget an additional $10 million from Bush's request to reach $115 million, the largest appropriation since the endowment's budget was slashed nearly in half by Congress, cut down from $162.3 million in 1995 to $99.5 million in 1996. 

"We are pleased at the President's commitment to the arts, especially given the increased pressure on the budget this year," said Eileen B. Mason, Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. "The arts are an important source of hope and inspiration. We will endeavor to recognize and support significant projects of artistic excellence that enrich the lives of all Americans, and to strengthen educational activity in the arts, especially for our children." 

Mason, 58, has stepped in to replace Michael P. Hammond until a presidential appointment can be made. Hammond, a composer and the dean of Rice University's Shepherd School of Music was sworn in as NEA Chairman on January 22, 2002, but died only a week later. Mason began her tenure at the NEA as senior deputy chairman in November 2001. Previously, Mason served for 22 years as a manager and policymaker at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

In addition to her work with the NEA, Mason's involvement in the arts includes sitting on the board of directors for the Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council and serving as Vice President for Grants and as a Music Advisory Panelist for the Maryland State Arts Council. Mason is also an accomplished violinist.