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FY2016 Budget Proposals from President Obama, Governor Wolf and Mayor Nutter

Budget season is in full swing, and the Cultural Alliance is keeping track of our cultural line items at the federal, state and city levels.

Now that President Obama, Governor Wolf and Mayor Nutter have presented their proposed budgets to the legislatures, we know where our cultural line items are starting off in the budget process. With at least another four months of budget negotiations before the legislatures and City Council, many of these recommendations may change. The Cultural Alliance and our partners across the country, state and city will continue to advocate for adequate funding and culture-friendly policies that will allow our cultural communities to continue to thrive.


As you will read below, many of our cultural line items received increased funding or at least will continue to be funded at the same levels as last year. That's good news. These changes are more likely to stay in the federal, state and city budgets if legislators hear from their constituents in support of arts and culture funding. We invite you to join us throughout the spring and let your voice be heard about the importance of arts and culture!

March 24: National Arts Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. Can't make the trip to D.C.? Join us at our second annual National Arts Advocacy Day Phone bank. Register now!

April 22: Mayoral Candidates Forum at the Central Branch of the Free Library beginning at 5:30pm. More details to come!

April: Second Annual Philadelphia Arts Advocacy Day. More details to come!

May 12: Pennsylvania Arts Advocacy Day in Harrisburg. More details to come!

Federal Budget

On February 2nd, the Obama Administration released its FY16 budget proposal, which included funding increases for arts and culture.

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

Both the NEA and the NEH received an additional $2 million, bringing both of their budgets to $148 million each. 

U.S. Department of Education's Arts in Education Program

This important program, dedicated to enhancing and disseminating innovative models of arts in education programs in elementary and middle school curriculawill continue to be funded at $25 million.

Office of Museum Services 

The Office of Museum Services received an addition $5 million, bringing its total appropriation to $35 million.

Pennsylvania State Budget

On March 3rd, Governor Wolf gave his first budget address in front of the General Assembly and presented his bold and comprehensive budget. It has several important indications for arts and culture in the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA)

Governor Wolf proposed a $2 million increase for PCA grantmaking, bringing the total appropriation to $10.59 million. The appropriation for the administration of PCA will continue to be funded at $898,000. 

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC)

The proposed FY16 budget also includes a $625,000 increase for PHMC, bringing its total appropriation to $19.589 million. However, the $2 million funding for Cultural and Historical Support grants for non-state-owned museums and historical sites stays at its current level. 


Governor Wolf proposed an additional $400 million in direct support for school districts, bringing the state investment in education to $6.1 billion. With restored funding for cash-strapped districts, we hope it will allow schools to reinstate or enhance arts programming that may have been cut or diminished due to lack of funding.


The Governor's budget proposes a $2 million increase to encourage tourism, which the budget acknowledges as one of the state's largest industries. 

Tourism Marketing - Zoos

Despite the $2 million increase for overall tourism, the line item for Zoos was once again zeroed-out in the FY16 budget. This line item has a history of being zeroed-out and later added back in. In FY15 it was funded at $550,000. 

Film Tax Credits

The film tax credit program will continue to be flat-funded at $60 million.

Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC)

EITC, a tax credit that many cultural organizations utilize in order to provide educational programming, will continue to be flat-funded at $100 million.

Broadening of the State Sales Tax 

A keystone of Governor Wolf's budget is the increase and broadening of the state sales tax in order to generate more revenue. Governor Wolf has proposed increasing the state sales tax from 6% to 6.6% and eliminating several of the tax exemptions, including on theater, dance, music and other performing arts admissions and museums, historical sites and other similar institutions. Because Philadelphia County already has an 8% sales tax, Philadelphia would be exempt from the increase but city arts and culture entertainment would have to collect sales tax. This means that admissions and tickets to either of these categories would be taxed at 6.6% in Bucks, Chester, Delaware or Montgomery Counties and 8% in Philadelphia County. 

The Cultural Alliance believes lifting the tax exemption on admissions to arts and culture venues and productions could have a negative impact on attendance and public access to arts and culture. We are exploring this issue with our partners across the state to understand the full details of the proposal. 

Philadelphia City Budget 

On March 5th, Mayor Nutter delivered his final budget address. Here are how our cultural line items fared in Nutter's last budget:  

Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE)

The OACCE budget contains funding for OACCE programming, and the city's appropriation to the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. The OACCE received an additional $200,000 to support OACCE programming in FY16.

However, despite City Council increasing the Cultural Fund's budget by $1.3 million in FY15, Mayor Nutter did not include this additional funding in his FY16 budget, reverting the Cultural Fund's budget back to its pre-FY15 level of $1.84 million. 

AAMP will continue to be funded at the FY15 level of $230,688.  

City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

Mural Arts received a 12.5% increase, bringing its total appropriation to $1,646,016. Mural Arts intends to use this additional funding for mural restoration across the city. 

Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Art Museum will continue to receive $2.55 million for operating support and a 50% increase in capital funding in support of the museum's multi-year facilities master plan

Philadelphia History Museum at Atwater Kent 

The History Museum received a slight boost for personnel, bringing its total appropriation to $293,498.

Department of Parks and Recreation

Parks and Rec received a significant boost in funding with an additional $3.9 million to launch a new office dedicated to youth workforce learning and development.  

Free Library of Philadelphia 

The Free Library received an additional $1 million for the "Read by 4th Campaign," bringing its total General Fund appropriation to a little over $41 million. The Library also received an additional $1.5 million in capital funding to support branch improvements.