The federal budget deal cut by Congress includes some good news for arts in Alaska.
The compromise continues funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. The federal agency provides $800,000, about 30 percent, of the Alaska State Council on the Arts’ $2.8 million annual budget.
Chairman Ben Brown said the deal means the council will continue to pass federal money on to Alaska art programs.
“When the Office of Management and Budget released the so-called skinny budget a few months ago, there was this draconian proposal to eliminate all funding for the NEA. So we’re pleased to see that the NEA is still operating and there is leadership in place there that supports its continued existence,” he said.
While the Alaska Legislature’s budget isn’t complete, House and Senate spending plans keep the council’s funding flat.
Both chambers have also passed an arts council restructuring bill, which awaits the governor’s signature. The measure changes the state agency to a public corporation. Backers say that would help attract additional grants and partnerships.
The state council supports arts education, training and performances, as well as community arts groups and individual artists.
One newer program is called Creative Forces. It brings the arts to service members with traumatic brain injuries and psychological health issues.
Brown said the council and endowment will partner with therapists at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
“There was a great deal of concern that if anything had been done to implement the elimination of the agency — or even a significant reduction in funding — those plans might have been compromised,” he said.
The Anchorage-area base is one of 11 designated program sites around the nation.