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Latest Stimulus Package Restores Arts Funding

The House of Representatives approved a compromise $787 billion economic stimulus package Friday afternoon that would provide $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts for projects across the country. It removes a Senate provision that barred states from using stimulus money on museums, theaters and art centers.

“The nation’s 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences generate $166.2 billion annually in U.S. economic activity. They support 5.7 million jobs and provide nearly $30 billion in government revenue,” Americans for the Arts president Robert Lynch said in a statement. “This economic stimulus will minimize the concern that 10 percent of arts groups could close this year and helps save thousands of arts workers from losing their jobs.”

The bill states that money should be used to fund arts projects and preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector. The NEA will direct 40 percent of the money to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations, while the remainder will go to selected arts projects. (Full disclosure: The NEA helps fund the NewsHour’s arts coverage.)

The Senate was set to vote on the final bill Friday evening. The Senate’s original version included a provision by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., “to ensure that taxpayer money is not lost on wasteful and non-simulative projects” by banning states from giving money to arts organizations.

The stimulus bill passed the House, 246-183, without a single Republican vote for the measure.

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