The chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Rocco Landesman, was in southern Idaho on Monday to get a firsthand look at how NEA funding helps our state. His visit, arranged by Rep. Mike Simpson, was covered by the Idaho Statesman and The Times-News.
It's heartening to see that the NEA is not the political hot potato it was in the 1990s, when I wrote this op-ed for The Wall Street Journal to share some of the same sort of success stories Landesman saw yesterday in Boise, Jerome and Twin Falls. Despite stories like mine from all over the nation, Congress slashed NEA funding that decade, mostly in response to outcries over the works of a few controversial artists who'd received NEA grants. Funding levels have risen gradually since then, but the NEA remains smaller than it was 15 years ago. The Obama Administration's FY 2011 request for the NEA is $161.3 million, or about 52 cents per American.