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Arts Funding Gets a Boost in Omnibus Spending Bill

WASHINGTON — The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that President Donald Trump reluctantly signed on Friday includes a boost to federal arts funding.

The legislation funds the government through Sept. 30, and includes a $3 million boost in the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as for its sister agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities. Their budgets will each be nearly $153 million for the fiscal year 2018.

The White House had proposed eliminating funding for the NEA and NEH in its budget proposals this year and last year. But Congress ultimately sets spending levels.

“This increase could not have happened without the unified, tireless, persistent work of the arts community and grassroots advocates nationwide,” Robert Lynch, the president and CEO of the advocacy organization Americans for the Arts, said in a statement.

He noted that this was “the second time in a row that a Republican-led Congress has reversed a request from President Trump to cut our federal cultural agencies’ funding.”

Hundreds of advocates for arts funding lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week, urging them to retain funding for the agencies. Trump’s budget also calls for the elimination of funding in the fiscal 2019 budget, which has not yet been set.

The spending bill also retains the $445 million in funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund public TV and radio stations. The legislation also included $20 million for upgrading the public broadcasting interconnection system, and $27.7 million for the Department of Education’s Ready to Learn program.

The White House had also recommended eliminating the federal funding to public broadcasting, but lawmakers ignored the proposal.

“The legislation reaffirms that federal funding for public media is an investment that continues to deliver proven value and service to the American people,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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