NEA, NEH Get Covid-19 Aid Bill Funds

In a move that was music (and dance and theater) to the ears of arts network Ovation, but short of the help they are looking for, the COVID-19 aid bill that is expected to pass the House Friday (March 27), includes $150 million for arts and humanities programs. 

The bill gives $75 million to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among the allocations Republicans were slamming on the House floor Friday (March 27) as unrelated to the crisis, along with $25 million for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and $75 million for noncommercial media (the Republicans kept saying it was for NPR, but it was actually for CPB to hand out to noncommercial TV and radio stations. 

The Democrat's argument for the funding is that the arts programs are important and worth preserving, and that they, too, will be hurting in a coronavirus-attacked economy. 

Ovation execs have long championed continued funding for those arts and humanities programs, which the President has been trying to phase out entirely with his latest (2020) budget. 

Related: Ovation Slams Latest Republican Effort to De-Fund NEA 

Ovation points out that the arts funding goes mostly to smaller organizations serving underserved communities. That includes the rural communities the Trump Administration professes to want to serve through things like precision agriculture programs and closing the digital divide. 

“The arts sector has been hit just as hard as everyone else," said Liz Janneman, EVP of network strategy, for Ovation. "The $75 million is a good start, but we need to understand this is affecting all arts organizations and the more than 5 million people that work in the arts. We are pleased to see that the National Endowment for the Arts has been included in the $2 trillion federal stimulus deal, though we would like to see more funding being allocated in the coming weeks and months. This money will help some arts non-profit groups and their employees, but not all. The great work done by arts advocates continues.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.