"Not often does one paraphrase [the character] Napoleon of Animal Farm, George Orwell's literary stand-in for Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, but perhaps it is fitting when it comes to sequestration: 'All cuts are equal, but some cuts are more equal than others.'"
--Edward Headington, The Huffington Post, 2/27/13
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Commentary: NEA funding will be cut $12 million if gov't doesn't avoid sequester
Shane Ferro, ArtInfo.com, 2/24/13
While Congress may have averted the "fiscal cliff" at the New Year, in actuality all it did was move the deadline for automatic spending cuts to go into effect from January 1 to March 1, effectively killing the scary-sounding fiscal cliff hype and replacing it with the much more obscure (and boring) term "the sequester" -- all but ensuring the average American cares much less about it. The sequester deadline is rapidly approaching, and you know what that means for the art world: even more cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA's $148 million budget will be cut by 8.2%, or roughly $12 million, if the sequester goes into effect (the same as all non-defense domestic discretionary spending), according to numbers published by the OMB. That's about 10% of the $115 million in grants awarded by the NEA in 2012. The thing about the cuts to the NEA is that they really show just how small the Endowment is. Because each part of the government is going to get its budget slashed proportionally, it's easy to see how little the NEA gets relative to larger government programs (and thus why talking about cuts to the NEA is largely a political, but not practical, argument). It could be worse, though. In 2010, the British government cut Arts Council England's budget by 30%.
Commentary: What the Constitution says about gov't funding of the arts
Roger Pilon, The Cato Institute, 2/15/13
Writing and ratifying a constitution is one thing; preserving one quite another, as the history of our own amply demonstrates. One of our bright young legal associates was wandering about [Washington D.C.] the other day, when he strolled into the Capitol Visitor Center and saw an art exhibit extolling the virtues of the National Endowment for the Arts. Above it was emblazoned an excerpt from the Constitution that read, "The Congress shall have Power to ... promote ... useful Arts." Thinking something amiss, he pulled out his pocket Constitution. And sure enough, the constitutional passage actually reads, "The Congress shall have Power To ... promote the ... useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." It takes no small imagination, of course, to read that passage as authorizing Congress to promote the arts by subsidizing them and not simply by protecting intellectual property. But never let it be said that the folks at the NEA are without imagination. Thus does "constitutional slippage" unfold.
Commentary: Artists to take a hit, and elderly artists could be hit even more
The Clyde Fitch Report, 2/27/13
If Congress can't find some way to avoid Sequester, [government budget cuts will include] $9.9 billion in Medicare. If you're an elderly artist, or just an elderly American, Congress is also looking at jabbing you beyond [those] cuts. The American Association of Retired People (AARP) has notified its 39 million members that the Senate could vote to cut Social Security's "cost of living adjustment by adopting a so-called 'chained CPI' as early as this week. AARP's email added: "The Senate is debating how to stop the automatic budget cuts scheduled to take effect on Friday - and some have proposed a chained CPI amendment that would slash Social Security by $112 billion over the next ten years as part of a deal. This $112 billion Social Security cut, in the form of a reduced cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) every year, would cost the average senior over $2,000 in the first 10 years alone. What's worse, the cut would increase with each passing year. That means every year, it will get harder and harder for millions already struggling to pay for groceries, health care or heating bills."
With Sequestration looming, parents take on funding high school arts programs
Kristin Twiford, WVIR-TV [NBC affiliate station in Charlottesville, VA], 2/25/13
During budget season, school administrators face tough decisions. With sequestration looming, school funding might be even harder to come by, especially when it comes to things like art and band, which aren't covered on Standards of Learning tests. Western Albemarle High School parents are taking the arts into their own hands. They've watched the programs grow over the past couple of years, and they want this to continue. WAHS's band has won several awards in the past three years. Until 4 years ago, the school didn't have a full-time fine arts department. Now, drama students are rehearsing for a new tradition -- their spring musical, Little Shop of Horrors. The school system covers capital improvements, like renovations to the auditorium, but the schools have to cover the costs of shows. That's why parents are stepping in. "So we started with zero budget here. And when you're putting on a show, let's say for a musical, the rights alone are between $5,000 and $7,000," said Tim Driver, WAHS's assistant principal. "The band needs uniforms, drama needs sets and funds and everything else, visual arts programs need everything visual arts these days, which is a lot of computerization as well. There's really no amount of money that would be too much to fund the arts," said Deborah Gordon, a member of the school's parents' committee. On Saturday, parents are hosting [a fundraiser,] "Artfest in the West," a showcase of all the Western Albemarle County schools' art programs.