President George W. Bush is requesting that Congress increase the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts by $18 million in 2005. The proposal would raise the NEA's budget from $121 million in 2004 to $139 million in 2005. It would be the largest increase since 1984. First Lady Laura Bush announced the proposed increase at a press conference with NEA chairman Dana Gioia on January 29.
Most of the extra money ($15 million) would fund "American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius," a new program that combines art presentations with educational programming "to introduce Americans to the best of their cultural and artistic legacy."