BOSTON, February 14, 2018—Statement in response to President Trump’s FY2019 Budget Proposal to Eliminate Funding for NEA and NEH

This week, President Donald Trump released his budget for Fiscal Year 2019, which proposes the complete elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The budget was released just one week after the NEA announced its 2018 grants, with more than $1 million going to 40 arts and cultural nonprofits in Massachusetts. It is the second attempt by the Trump Administration to eliminate both agencies; last year’s budget from the Trump Administration also proposed zero funding for the NEA and NEH, but Congress rejected the proposal.

“For 50 years, funding from the NEA and NEH has supported small, medium, and large cultural institutions across the Commonwealth. They’ve helped develop and showcase new and innovative art forms and to bring vibrancy and creativity to our neighborhoods,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson. “Eliminating the these national cultural organizations would destroy successful efforts that have long benefitted the public good. ”

The NEA budget is approximately $150 million and represents less than one-half of one percent of the entire federal budget. But NEA funding is unique among many public programs in that it generates additional investment from local and state governments and private entities. Two of the NEA’s four grant-making programs—Art Works and Challenge America—require matching funds. The other two—Our Town and Research: Art Works—offer matching grants to investments made by others, including research institutions and local and state governments. As a result, for every dollar granted by the NEA, an additional $9 are contributed from other sources. This out-sized impact means that NEA-funded projects contribute significantly to the $730 billion arts economy, which supports 4.8 million jobs and represents 4.2 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product.

“It’s always tempting to make our case for investing in the arts based purely on the economic impact,” Wilson added. “But this is about so much more. The Challenge America program of the NEA exists solely to ensure that everyone has access to the arts, not just people of means or those who live in urban areas.”

Recent NEA-funded projects and organizations in Massachusetts have touched every region of the state, and range from nurturing an interest in writing among Roxbury-area youth by funding a collection of stories by youth participants of 826 Boston to installing lighting and public art along a highway underpass to build a safe walking route between the Springdale neighborhood of Holyoke and the city’s downtown.

“We really need to ask ourselves whether we see creativity as something worth investing in as a public good, or if it should be left to the private, monied sector,” Wilson said. “This fight over funding isn’t about money. It’s about who we are.”

MASSCreative is circulating a petition among its members and supporters to ask Massachusetts members of Congress to support continued funding for the NEA and NEH. It will share the petition March 12, during Americans for the Arts Annual Arts Advocacy Day.


Founded in 2012, MASSCreative works to build a more vibrant, healthy, and equitable Massachusetts. MASSCreative works with artists, leaders, supporters, and partners of the arts, cultural, and creative community to advocate for the resources and support necessary for the sector to thrive. Nearly 400 arts and cultural organizations and working artists from across the Commonwealth are members of MASSCreative.

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