NEA wins more money, loses old image

WASHINGTON, DC: The once-embattled National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) won its first budget increase since 1992 last week, rising from dollars 98 million to dollars 105 million for 2001.

WASHINGTON, DC: The once-embattled National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) won its first budget increase since 1992 last week, rising from dollars 98 million to dollars 105 million for 2001.

WASHINGTON, DC: The once-embattled National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) won its first budget increase since 1992 last week, rising from dollars 98 million to dollars 105 million for 2001.

The triumph was the culmination of a PR charm offensive that saw the agency working to leave its controversial image - exemplified by its support of works such as Andreas Serrano's Piss Christ - behind it.

The entire dollars 7 million raise will go towards NEA's Challenge America program, designed to enhance the agency's community outreach and quell the objections of critics, who once accused the agency of elitism and funding pornography.

In 1996, NEA's budget was drastically culled by 40%, forcing it to explore a new strategy. 'The agency reinvented itself and did some soul searching,' said NEA spokesperson Katherine Wood.

Though NEA has always been somewhat involved in community projects, Challenge America grew out of a change in tactics that was initiated in 1998 by Bill Ivey, then NEA's new chairman.

'We worked to develop a new strategic plan; a new vision for the agency to use public funding for the arts for community service,' Wood said.

Ivey was actively involved in gathering support through media interviews and meetings with lawmakers to secure bipartisan backing.

NEA also capitalized on media attention it received during its two-year pilot program, Art REACH, which distributed grants to 20 states previously under-represented.

Challenge America will support arts education programs and partnerships with state and regional arts organizations with projects such as after-school programs.

In a statement, Ivey called the budget increase 'the culmination of a decade-long fight in which the President, our supporters in the house and senate and many ... on the grass-roots level fought and won.'



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in