Order Code RS20287
Updated February 16, 2006
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Arts and Humanities:
Background on Funding
Specialist in Social Legislation
Domestic Social Policy Division
Funding for the arts and humanities is a perennial issue in Congress. Although arts
funding represents less than 1% of the Bush Administration’s FY2007 total estimated
budget authority, Congress continues to address the concern of whether federal funding
is crucial to sustain arts institutions. The majority of federally funded arts and
humanities programs are contained in the Department of Interior and Related Agencies
appropriations bill. The Interior appropriations provide funding for the National
Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities, including the National Endowment for the
Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The Office of
Museum Services, within the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is now under
the jurisdiction of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related
Agencies appropriations. The FY2006 final Interior appropriations law (H.R. 2361,
P.L. 109-54) provided $124.40 million for NEA and $140.95 million for NEH (both
figures including rescissions.) The Bush Administration’s FY2007 budget would
provide $124.41 million for the NEA and $140.955 million for NEH, which are very
similar numbers to the final FY2006 appropriation.
Of the estimated 200-plus arts and humanities programs scattered throughout federal
agencies, it appears that the majority of arts and humanities funding is through the
Department of Interior appropriations.1 President Bush’s FY2007 budget request ($2.739
trillion in estimated budget authority) includes far less than 1% for arts and humanitiesrelated spending. The NEA and the NEH combined specifically constitute an estimated
The federal government also provides support for the arts through tax expenditures, such as the
deduction for charitable contributions to the arts, humanities, and culture on income tax and on
gift and estate taxes.
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
0.01% of the FY2007 budget.2 The Department of Interior and Related Agencies
Appropriations for FY2006 (P.L. 109-54) (including rescissions) provided a total of
$124.4 million for NEA and $140.9 million for NEH, representing approximately 0.01%
of total estimated budget authority ($2.758 trillion) in FY2006.
Three of the major arts programs funded by the federal government include the NEA,
the NEH, and the Office of Museum Services within the Institute of Museum and Library
Services (OMS/IMLS). NEA provides direct grants to art institutions, grants for
programs of national significance, and a limited number of individual grants for Literature
fellowships, Jazz masters, and National Heritage Fellowships in the folk and traditional
arts. NEA has awarded approximately 120,000 grants for 50 states and six U.S.
jurisdictions since 1965. State arts agencies, in compliance with the congressional
mandate, are now receiving over 40% of NEA grant-making funds. In addition to
providing state arts grants, NEA administers the Challenge America Arts fund.3 NEH
supports grants for humanities education, research, preservation, public humanities
programs, and grants under the jurisdiction of 56 state humanities councils, and has
initiated a “We the People” program. NEH also supports a Challenge grant program to
stimulate and match private donations in support of humanities institutions. Since its
creation, NEH has provided approximately 61,000 grants to all states. Within IMLS, the
OMS supports general operations grants for museums, museum leadership grants,
museum conservation grants, and museum assessment.4 In the past 25 years, the IMLS’s
Office of Museum Services has awarded approximately 44,000 grants totaling over $400
million, aiding approximately 15,000 museums of all types. OMS is now under the
jurisdiction of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related
Agencies (L-HHS-ED) appropriations instead of Interior and Related Agencies
appropriations. The rationale for this transfer was that the Office of Library Services, the
larger of the two components of IMLS, was already under L-HHS-ED appropriations, and
having a single funding stream appeared to be simpler.
For final FY2005 funding, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 (P.L. 108447) provided $121.3 million for NEA and $138.05 million for NEH. The conference
added $2 million to NEA’s funding for the “American Masterpieces” program. The
FY2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act provided $34.7 million for OMS within IMLS,
An estimate of the FY2007 total budget authority ($2.739 trillion) would include less than 0.1%
of the total budget authority for arts and humanities-related spending. This figure is calculated
based on programs in the FY2007 budget, and using the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
([http://www.cfda.gov]) designations for arts and humanities programs. (For estimated total U.S.
budget authority, see U.S. Budget, Historical Tables, FY2007, Table 5.1.)
The Challenge America Arts fund is a program of matching grants for arts education, outreach,
and community arts activities for rural and under served areas. Because the NEA administers the
Challenge America Arts fund, it is required to submit a detailed report to the House and Senate
appropriations committees describing the use of funds for the Challenge America fund program.
The IMLS and the Office of Museum Services have been reauthorized through FY2009 by
P.L. 108-81, the Museum and Library Services Act.
$39.9 million for “Congressionally directed grants” and $205.9 million for Library
programs for a total of $280.6 million for IMLS. This included $16.9 million for the
“Museums for America” program, to “build the capacity of museums to serve
communities through technology and education.” P.L. 108-447 also provided $35.6
million for the Arts in Education program.
After a series of hearings, the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and
Related Agencies Appropriations marked up the Interior Appropriations bill on May 4,
2005. The full House Appropriations Committee met May 10, 2005 and reported H.R.
2361 (H.Rept. 109-80, May 13, 2005), providing $121.3 million for the NEA and $138.05
million for NEH. On May 19, 2005 the House passed the Interior, Environment and
Related Agencies appropriations bill, H.R. 2361, by a vote of 329 to 89. The Housepassed bill would have provided $131.3 million for NEA, $10.0 million above the
Administration’s FY2006 request and the FY2005 Appropriation. (See Table 1 below
for additional arts-related appropriations.) A House floor amendment by Representative
Slaughter was approved that increased NEA’s appropriation by $10.0 million and the
NEH by $5.0 million with offsets totaling $15.0 million from the National Forest system
and Department of Interior’s Departmental Management activities. Under the House
passed bill, NEA’s Challenge America program was increased to $24.9 million funded
under NEA grants and state partnerships.
Other House floor amendments that were not agreed to would have reduced funding
for the NEA. One sought to cut $15.0 million from NEA to provide $4.8 million for the
Payment in Lieu of Taxes program. Another proposed cutting $30.0 million from the
NEA to shift $27.5 million to the Forest Service’s Wildland Fire Management program.
On June 10, the Senate Appropriations committee reported its version of H.R. 2361
(S.Rept. 109-80), and on June 29 the Senate passed H.R. 2361, providing $126.3 million
for NEA and $143.05 million for NEH for FY2006. The Senate passed H.R. 2361 on June
29, 2005. The Senate Committee version and the Senate bill included $5 million in
general increases to NEA and NEH. (Note: The House considered and passed H.R. 3010,
the L-HHS-ED appropriations for FY2006, providing $0 for Arts in Education and $249.6
million for the IMLS. The FY2006 Senate-reported figure for Arts in Education was
$35.7 million, and for IMLS was $290.1 million total, with $37.4 million for OMS.) P.L.
109-149, the Labor, HHS, and Ed Appropriations act, provided $36,547,000 for the Office
of Museum Services, including $842,000 for the Museum grants for African American
History and Culture, and $911,000 for Native American/Hawaiian Museum Services.
It also provided $35,277,000 for Arts in Education. On August 2, 2005, the FY2006
Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (H.R. 2361) was signed
into law as P.L. 109-54, providing $124.4 million for NEA and $140.9 million for NEH
(including across-the-board rescissions — P.L. 109-148 applied a 1% reduction for most
FY2007 Budget Request
The Bush Administration’s FY2007 budget proposes $124.4 million for NEA
(including $14.1 million for the Challenge America Arts Fund). In the NEA budget,
NEA’s direct grants would constitute an estimated $44.9 million. The new national
initiative called American Masterpieces is proposed to be funded at $9.8 million, and
includes touring programs, local presentations, and arts education programs in the fields
of dance, visual arts, and music. For IMLS, the FY2007 budget proposes $262.2 million,
and of that amount the Office of Museum Services (which serves an estimated 15,000
museums) would receive $41.4 million (it now includes funding for the African American
Museum of History and Culture ($1.5 million) and Native American/Hawaiian museum
services ($920,000). For NEH, the FY2007 budget would provide $140.95 million.
NEH’s FY2007 budget proposes $15.2 million for the “We the People” initiative. These
grants include model curriculum projects for schools to improve course offerings in the
humanities — American history, culture, and civics. The FY2007 budget proposes $54.9
million to support NEH’s grant programs for education, research, preservation and access,
and public programming in the humanities; and $31.08 million for the federal state
partnership program for the 56 state humanities councils; and $14.9 million for the NEH
Challenge Grants program and Treasury funds to stimulate private donations.
Reauthorization of the Institute of
Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
The legislation authorizing the IMLS expired at the end of FY2002. However,
funding was carried through appropriations law until enactment of P.L. 108-81. H.R. 13,
the Museum and Library Services Act of 2003, which authorized funding for IMLS
through FY2009 was signed into law on September 24, 2003 as P.L. 108-81. The
provisions for P.L. 108-81 included an “obscenity clause” requiring the IMLS Director
to establish procedures to prohibit funding to any project that has been “determined to be
obscene” in the judgment of the courts, and require the Director in making grants to “take
into account consideration of general standards of decency and respect for the diverse
beliefs and values of the American public.” The law used the definition of obscenity that
was formulated by the United States Supreme Court in Miller vs. California [413 U.S. 15
(1973)], and this language was carried through Interior appropriations and became
amendments to the NEA statute (National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities
Act, as amended [20 U.S.C. §954(d)].5 In addition to this provision, the law also clarified
the definition of museum and revised the purposes section to restate the importance of
museums’ public service role of connecting the whole of society to our cultural heritage.
The law required that the IMLS director carry out and publish analyses of the “impact”
of museum and library services.
P.L. 108-81 authorizes OMS at $38.6 million for FY2004 and “such sums” as may
be necessary for FY2005-FY2009. The public law also included amendments to the
National Commission on Libraries and Information Science Act and the Arts and Artifacts
Indemnity Act to raise liability limits to $8 billion. For those aspects of P.L. 108-81
related to libraries, see CRS Report RL31320, Federal Aid to Libraries in the Museum
and Library Services Act of 2003.
See CRS Report RS21509, Museum and Library Services Act of 2003: Using “Obscenity” and
“Decency” Criteria in Selecting Grantees, by Andrew W. Murnane.
Private Giving to the Arts and Humanities
Giving USA, a publication by the American Association of Fundraising Counsel
(AAFRC) Trust for Philanthropy, provides an annual report on philanthropy. According
to Giving USA 2005, private giving to organizations in the arts, culture, and humanities
category totaled $13.99 billion in 2004. This represents 5.6% of total estimated giving
($248.5 billion) in 2004. In current dollars, private giving to the arts, culture and
humanities reflects an increase of 6.7% over 2003. One of the largest gifts reported in
2004 was for an estimated $500 million for the estate of Caroline Wiess Law benefitting
the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
Table 1. FY2002-FY2007 Appropriations for Selected Arts and Humanities Programs
National Endowment for the Arts
(NEA) (Grants, Admin.)a
Challenge America Arts Funda
National Endowment for the
Office of Museum Services, IMLS
Institute of Museum and Library
Services (IMLS) — totalc,d
National Gallery of Art
Commission of Fine Arts
Institute of American Indian, and
Alaska Native Culture and Arts
Holocaust Memorial Council
Arts in Education d
a. With the exception of the FY2002 number, the NEA Grants and Administration total now includes the Challenge America Arts Fund.
b. The final FY2006 appropriations in this column reflect the enacted rescissions (P.L. 109-148).
c. IMLS earmarks were not allowed for FY2006 in the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations act, and there was a 1% across-the- board rescission in the final FY2006 appropriation. The total
for IMLS for FY2002-FY2005 includes congressional earmarks in FY2002 ($29.5 million), FY2003 ($35.1 million), FY2004 ($32.6 million), and FY2005 ($39.9 million).
d. Both IMLS and Arts in Education are under L-HHS-ED appropriations.
e. The top figure for Smithsonian is for Salaries and Expenses. The lower figure in the table is the total (t = total) appropriation including repair and construction.
f. The total for the Office of Museum Services includes Museum grants for African American History and Culture (P.L. 108-184) and funding for Native American/Hawaiian museum
services (P.L. 108-81).