How Obama and Romney Stack Up on Arts and Culture

It’s about more than just Big Bird. With the general election only three weeks away, we take a look at where the two leading candidates really stand on issues relating to arts and culture. Who will increase cultural funding and who will cut? The differences between the candidates are clear. Know your candidate’s positions before heading to the polls on November 6.

In February, President Barack Obama proposed a 5% increase in cultural funding. This includes $8 million more for each of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and level funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This represents a turnaround after several years of dwindling funding for arts and culture.  

Governor Mitt Romney has said that he will reduce or eliminate cultural funding if elected. His campaign website says he will “reduce” subsidies for the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. However, in an interview with Fortune magazine, he said that he would eliminate the programs, stating that they would have to “stand on their own.” He reiterated his intention to completely cut the subsidy to PBS in the first Presidential debate.

The combined appropriation for the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is approximately $737 million, or less than 0.0002% of the FY 2012 federal budget.  

This investment in America’s cultural assets makes culture more accessible to the public, supports educational programs that foster creativity and innovation for young people, and funds community-focused programs around the country.  It also supports a cultural sector that generates $135.2 billion in direct and indirect spending, supports 4.13 million full-time jobs, and provides $22.3 billion in tax revenues to local, state and federal government every year.

For more information on the economic benefits of arts and culture, visit Americans for the Arts. To see the local economic impact, read the Cultural Alliance’s Arts, Culture and Economic Prosperity report.

To find out how your Senators and Representative have voted on issues related to arts and culture, visit American for the Arts.

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