Magazine article American Theatre

Flat Budget Reins in NEA Initiatives

Magazine article American Theatre

Flat Budget Reins in NEA Initiatives

Article excerpt

At annual hearings, Alexander reiterates goal of 'best art to the most people'

The annual appropriations process for the National Endowment for the Arts budget began formally in late April, with NEA chairman Jane Alexander testifying for the first time before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. Presenting the Clinton Administration's FY '95 budget proposal for the agency--$170.2 million, the same as the 1994 appropriation and $4.3 million less than the 1993 budget--Alexander noted that "the arts contribute immensely to shaping American culture, to building a competitive work force, and to recognizing and valuing the diversity of expression in American society."

Alexander also commented on her progress in achieving her two primary goals for the NEA--improving the agency's image and bringing the "best art to the most people"--and emphasized her intention of increasing accessibility to the arts for all Americans.

Acknowledging the challenge faced by the agency in setting program and funding priorities given the NEA's flat budget, Alexander, subcommittee chairman Sidney Yates (D-Ill.) and other subcommittee members discussed how to strike a balance between funding the artistic missions of arts organizations and supporting outreach activities such as educational programs. Rep. Yates noted that increased funding for the NEA was unlikely at this time of severe budget cuts, and also indicated that during floor debate in the House of Representatives further cuts to the agency might be proposed.

Alexander responded to Yates' question of whether she would take money from currently funded arts institutions to pay for new programming initiatives by saying, "I am loathe to do that," stressing the precarious financial position faced by many arts groups and their continued need for support. When she proposed developing partnerships with other federal agencies such as the Department of Education, Rep. Yates cautioned, "We cannot raid the other agencies too much," since they, too, have suffered budget cuts.

Two weeks later, public witnesses appeared before the same subcommittee, testifying in support of 1995 funding for the NEA and to the importance of the agency in their professional and personal lives. Witnesses included jazz pianist Billy Taylor, flutist Eugenia Zukerman, and Eugene Wolf and Christine Murdock, members of the Road Company of Johnson City, Tenn.

The American Arts Alliance, Theatre Communications Group and other national arts service organizations were represented by a panel of artists, trustees and public witnesses, with theatre testimony offered by Alabama Shakespeare Festival artistic director Kent Thompson, ASF actors performing a scene from The Tempest, Alabama high school teacher Effie Cannon and her student Clint Gullate. The Alabama high-schooler told the subcommittee that "being a teenager is really hard because you feel like you don't fit in. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.