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News & Press: Advocacy

UMA Response to President Trump's FY2018 Budget Proposal

Wednesday, May 24, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Carl Aldrich
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The White House recently released President Trump's FY 2018 federal budget proposal. Although we recognize that his stated priority is to balance the budget and reduce the national debt, the President has--to our disappointment--proposed completely eliminating the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Each of these agencies has proven to be successful in promoting arts and humanities, has created jobs, has supported award-winning projects, and has been crucial in the passing of American citizenship values across generations. 


Utah Museums Association President Lorie Millward made the following statement:

Now, more than at any time before, advocacy for museums is critical. The President's budget eliminates the agencies and funding for arts, history, humanities, libraries, archives, and museums. It is essential for us to understand the implications so that we can communicate to our representatives in Washington the impact that passing this budget will have on our communities and our ability to preserve, protect, and interpret the objects and places that are our collective heritage.

Advocacy matters and it can make a difference. Together, we've been a strong voice for Utah museums, let's continue to work for a secure future.


What's the big deal?


Several institutions, festivals, and communities in Utah have benefited directly from IMLS, NEA, and NEH. Between the three agencies, Utah has received well over $35,786,588 in funding in the last 20 years. Below is a breakdown from quickly-accessible data:

IMLS $8,796,121 (2012-2016)

NEA $21,990,467 (1998-2017)

NEH $5,000,000 (2008-2012)


UMA and many of its member museums receive support from Utah Division of Arts and Museums, which in turn receives funding from the organizations being suggested for closing. Utah Humanities frequently sponsors art and literature programming, oral history projects, and the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street program which puts high end traveling exhibitions in small rural communities. Utahns flock to institutions, events, and programs made possible by funding from IMLS, NEA, and NEH. They in turn contribute to growing local economies based around humanities. The closure of any of these agencies will have a real, noticeable affect on the average person in our state.


What can I do?


There are a number of ways to advocate on behalf of your communities, your institutions, and the agencies at risk by President Trump's recommendations:

  • Contact Utah's representatives in Congress and remind them that continued funding of arts and humanities programs is crucial to our local, state, and national success. Please be sure to remind the people you contact that you are their constituent and not just someone sending letters to anyone whose addresses they can find. If you live in Rep. Chris Stewart's district, your work will be especially important as he sits on the subcommittee that determines NEH appropriations. Mention specific ways in which art and humanities have impacted your life and your community.
  • Utah Humanities is collecting letters along with other state humanities councils to present to the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee chairs (the group of people who determine these appropriations). You may mail a letter to Utah Humanities, 202 W 300 N, Salt Lake City, UT 84103-1108.
  • See the organizations that have received NEH funding in Utah, either directly or through Division of Arts and Museums grants. (UDAM / NEH).
  • Use these templates from the American Alliance of Museums to guide your letters, or submit right from their web forms.
  • Also from AAM, this economic impact statement template can help you make a business case for your museum and highlight the ways in which IMLS, NEA, or NEH funding allows you to help drive your local economy.
  • Share this post with your friends via e-mail and social media. Cutting these agencies does not only affect artists, museum professionals, or festival promoters. Entire communities of individuals will experience the ramifications of following the President's proposal.

Is there any good news?


The President's budget proposal is just that: a proposal. He ultimately does not set the budget, although he may actively lobby to get his proposals through and could veto a bill that is not to his liking. As we have seen in recent years, the final federal budget often comes together at the last minute and looks incredibly different from what the President submits. In March of this year, when President Trump first suggested cutting funding to IMLS, NEA, and NEH, there was bipartisan backlash and support for the arts and humanities. These agencies are such a small portion of the federal budget and provide so much benefit that it is difficult to justify eliminating them. 


IMLS and NEA have both indicated that they will continue accepting grant applications for FY 2018 in anticipation of continued funding. NEH does not appear as optimistic, but their fate is not yet sealed either. All agencies will continue to honor commitments that they have made until they are completed, so any projects you have received that funding for can continue as planned.

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