Monday, April 18, 2011

Federal Funding for Museums = "Budget Dust"?



Here's a "Tax Day" Question: Do you know what folks on Capitol Hill call funding programs that may only deal with millions of dollars, instead of billions, or even trillions?  Answer: Budget dust!

So, apparently, federal funding for ALL museum-related projects is merely "budget dust."

With the notion of "budget dust" pinging around my brain, I've tried to set out determining exactly (or at least approximately) how much money was actually awarded to museums via the Federal government in the 2010 budget cycle.  Unfortunately, it hasn't been easy.

I naturally assumed that AAM (American Association of Museums) could provide that number, but no go.  So, moving on, I've been contacting the "big four" Federal agencies that seem to provide most of the museum-related funding: IMLS (Institute for Museum and Library Services); NSF (National Science Foundation); NEA (National Endowment for the Arts); and NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities.)  So far, I've gotten some initial numbers from NEH and IMLS, and I hope to get some comparable information from both NSF and NEA soon.

Once I gather and parse all the numbers, I'll offer the documentation and figures here on ExhibiTricks, so stay tuned!

Why am I interested in the museum funding numbers?  Mainly to spur museum colleagues to action, and to provide a fact-based response to the demagoguery spinning around the current budget process in Washington.

Why are "budget dust" projects that serve a wide range of people (like museums!) being targeted for cut-backs while the real "budget boulders" like Defense, Entitlements, and tax cuts for the very richest Americans, are being spared, or even increased?

If you work with museums and care about their future, please contact your representatives in Washington to let them know how important museum funding is --- not just for museums themselves, but their local communities.

Don't let our "budget dust" turn into "budget nanoparticles"!


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2 comments:

  1. Paul, here's one set of data that the AHA posted and we put up on the AASLH Twitter feed last week:

    RT @AHAhistorians Final 2011 appropriation cuts $73m from TAH, $13m from NEH, and $20m from NARA: http://1.usa.gov/emiJat

    and here's info we emailed out last
    >Teaching American History Grants were cut $73 million, from $119M to $46M. This is huge, but given the President’s budget has them at $0 for FY 2012 and some House Republicans targeted the program, it could be worse. We will be working on this with our colleagues for the FY 2012 budget, with lots more information to come.

    >National Historical Publications and Records Commission was cut from $13 million to $7 million. This is also a lot, but at one point the House had voted for $4M and some Republicans pushed for elimination.

    >National Endowment for the Humanities: Reduced $13 million down to $155M. No word on which programs will be

    >IMLS: Reduced $44 million down to $238M. However, this cut includes some earmarks making the “real” cut more like $28M. We aren’t clear at this point how much of this applies to the Library side vs. the Museum side. What was released was just a chart; no details to send along.

    Hope this helps somewhat.

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  2. @Bob Beatty --- Thanks for the additional info!

    ReplyDelete