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Issue: National Endowment for the Arts


  • We urge Congress to provide at least $207 million for the NEA for FY 2024 level with FY 2023 (FOR REPRESENTATIVES: and oppose the recently approved 10% cut to $186.3 million by the House Appropriations Committee.)


The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) provides funding to state arts agencies and to nonprofit arts institutions including museums. Its mission is to make art accessible to all and to provide leadership in arts education.

Established in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts supports great art in every congressional district. NEA grants to museums help them exhibit, preserve, and interpret art through exhibitions, residencies, publications, commissions, public art works, conservation, documentation, and public programs, including the performing arts. Grants are also awarded for research, for example into the benefits of museum field trips for K-12 students. Grants are awarded for specific projects and require one-to-one matching funds from recipients.

Since 2010, the National Endowment for the Arts has collaborated with Blue Star Families and the U.S. Department of Defense on Blue Star Museums, which provides free museum admission to active duty military and their families all summer long. In 2019, more than 2,000 museums in all 50 states participated, reaching on average more than 900,000 military members and their families.

The agency also runs the Arts & Artifacts Indemnity program, which reduces the cost of insuring major exhibitions. Absent this program, such exhibitions would need to be reduced in scale. It saves museums millions of dollars annually, at a cost of almost zero to taxpayers.

Talking Points

  • Annually, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) typically provides more than 150 awards to museums and museum-related projects, totaling approximately $5 million.
  • The NEA’s report, U.S. Trends in Arts Attendance and Literary Reading: 2002-2017, notes that in 2017, 23.7 percent of US adults (57.5 million people) visited an art museum or gallery. That share of adults represents an increase of 12.9 percent from 2012 to 2017. Attendance rates were helped by increases among African Americans, 18-24 year-olds, 35-44 year-olds, and adults who received only “some college” education.
  • Receiving a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts confers prestige on supported projects, strengthening museums’ ability to attract matching funds from other public and private funders. On average, each dollar awarded by the Arts Endowment leverages up to nine dollars from other sources.
  • The federal role of the National Endowment for the Arts is uniquely valuable.
  • Forty percent of NEA’s grant funds are distributed to state arts agencies for re-granting, ensuring that states may set their own priorities.


The NEA is funded through the Interior & Environment appropriations bill. It is currently funded at $207 million for FY 2023. On July 27, the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill with funding level with FY 2023 for NEA. Previously on July 19, the full House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that if enacted would cut FY 2024 funding by 10 percent compared with FY 2023 to $186.3 million for the agency.

NEA Funding History

Appropriation (in millions)

  • FY 24 President’s Request: $211
  • FY 23: $207
  • FY 22: $180
  • FY 21: $167.5
  • FY 20: $162.25
  • FY 19: $155
  • FY 18: $152.8
  • FY 17: $149.8
  • FY 16: $147.9
  • FY 15: $145
  • FY 14: $146
  • FY 13 CR*: $146
  • FY 12: $146
  • FY 11: $154.7
  • FY 10: $167.5

*In FY 2013, across the board sequestration cuts reduced NEA’s effective funding to $138.4 million.

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Supporting Letters and Testimony

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