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Never mind: NEA money survives conference committee

Next time, we’ll just wait until the entire bill is posted online before we report that language for federal arts funding appears to be missing from a compromise reached on economic stimulus legislation. That was the story Thursday when we checked in with a senator’s spokesperson, who did note that the bill hadn’t gone online yet. We also were hearing from various quarters that the language was missing and later that it was there, but no one could confirm for sure.

Today, we find a $50 million provision for the National Endowment for the Arts is on page 143 of the 496-page Division A (PDF) of the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act. (By the way, if you’re interested in seeing what all is in the compromise legislation, go to the House Appropriations Committee’s website. Happy reading.)

According to the bill, the NEA money is “to be distributed in direct grants to fund arts projects and activities which preserve jobs in the non-profit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn.” Forty percent of the money is to be distributed to state arts agencies and regional arts councils (potentially good news for the Minnesota State Arts Board, which faces potential cuts in state funding) and 60 percent for “competitively selected projects.”

“It is a relief to see that Congress has recognized that the arts are an economic driver and large source of employment in America,” said Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. “I’m hoping that this means we will lose fewer jobs and fewer arts organizations in this terrible economy.”

Stay tuned: The entire compromise stimulus package still has to pass both the Senate and House before it goes to President Barack Obama.

Related content: Update: NEA funding appears to be missing from stimulus by Cynthia Dizikes and Casey Selix, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009

The NEA’s press release issued late this morning.

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