After a week of uncertainty, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced today that members of the House and Senate conference committee have negotiated to keep the fifty million dollars that the House of Representatives had designated for the NEA in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funding, which the House approved on January 28 as part of the stimulus package put forward by president Barack Obama, was cut from the Senate's version of the bill last Friday.
Arts groups and individuals organized e-mail campaigns urging readers to contact their senators and ask them to reconsider senator Tom Coburn's amendment to cut the arts funding. Now that the conference committee has finished its negotiations, the bill proceeds to both the House and the Senate for final votes before being sent to the president.
"On behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts, I am pleased that the agency has garnered the confidence of members of Congress to participate in addressing this national economic crisis," said NEA acting chairman Patrice Walker Powell in a statement. "The arts and culture industry is a viable sector of the economy. Its employees pay taxes and mortgages as members of the American workforce and are being profoundly impacted by the economic downturn."