California Arts Council

State of California

NEA funding included in the Congressional Economic Stimulus Plan
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies reports that $50 million will go to National Endowment for the Arts; zoos and aquariums not allowed funding

Published: 02-13-2009

The federal economic stimulus package was signed by President Obama on Tuesday, February 17, after it passed the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate on Friday, February 13. The package includes $50 million for arts-related jobs to be distributed through the National Endowment for the Arts, reported the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA).

"The compromise version of the bill with tax breaks and spending totaling $789 billion stipulates that the arts funding goes for grants to activities and projects 'which preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn'," noted an email blast from NASAA, "with 40 percent of the amount going to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations ('in a manner similar to the agency's current practice') and the remainder going out in competitive grants from the NEA. Matching requirements are waived." 

NASAA's email blast was received at the California Arts Council just hours before the Senate's compromise version of H.R.1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was approved by the House of Representatives mid-day on Friday, and then the U.S. Senate before the planned Congressional recess. News sources announced that the President signed the package in the afternoon of Tuesday, February 17, 2009.

While many in the arts field hail the NEA funding, the California Association of Museums (CAM) forwarded an email blast from the American Association of Museums (AAM) with a caveat: no funding from the stimulus package may go to zoos or aquariums.

"Zoos and aquariums were barred from funds in both (the Senate and House) versions," noted the CAM/AAM email blast. "In reconciling the two pieces of legislation, Congress is set to adopt the following language ... 'None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this Act may be used by any State or local government, or any private entity for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool.'"

Theatre Bay Area printed the entire version of AAM's email blast on its website, which also noted other culture-related funding in the package:

  • Smithsonian Institution - $25 million for repair and revitalization of existing facilities.
  • National Park Service - $146 million for critical repair and rehabilitation projects, $589 million for energy efficient retrofits, the preservation and repair of historical resources within the National Park System and other critical infrastructure projects, and $15 million for historic preservation projects at historically black colleges and universities.
  • National Science Foundation - $100 million for improving instruction in math, science, and engineering.
  • Community Development Fund - $1 billion to bolster critical community services and infrastructure needs, to be administered by local governments.

The House/Senate 496-page conference report may be read online as a PDF, or look at the history of the package in H.R. 1 through

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