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After Fears of Elimination, Arts, Humanities Groups May Get More Funds

Arts and humanities education advocates were seriously alarmed when President Donald Trump proposed that the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, both of which fund and support education work, be entirely eliminated. 

But the most recent budget proposal from leaders in Congress, announced Monday, might be a sign for hope: It would devote more money to both endowments for the remainder of the federal fiscal year, which ends in September, than in the previous year. The budget also includes an increase in funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which supports school and public libraries.

The arts and humanities endowments would each receive $150 million in the proposed budget, up from $148 million apiece in 2016. The IMLS would receive $184 million, up $1 million from the previous year. 

The budget is part of a spending bill to fund government operations through September. The bill would also add funds to Title I and special education. (Read more about the budget's implications for the education department on the Politics K-12 blog.)

Advocates for arts and humanities education and for libraries had asked supporters to contact representatives in Congress and to spread the word about the national impact of the agencies' work after President Trump's budget was announced in March

The endowments have been a favored target for those looking for ways to cut federal spending for decades, with some critics raising concerns about the content of arts projects supported by the endowments. But representatives and leaders from both parties have voiced their support for the endowments and libraries in the weeks after the budget proposal was annouced. 

Some observers were concerned that the bill didn't cut spending on education as much as Trump had suggested. 

But PEN America, the literary and human rights organization, said in a statement that "this agreement is proof of strong, bipartisan support for these vital institutions," according to the Associated Press. "President Trump's proposal to defund both Endowments in 2018 has been met with a loud, sustained outpouring of protest from people across the country who benefit from the work that the NEA and NEH do to make arts and culture accessible to more people, support the creation of new scholarships, and drive innovation and creativity."

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