While music lovers sat on the amphitheater lawn for Live at the Lakefront Friday night, those who helped organize the event had one more thing on their minds - the potential hit to their budget.
The concert and other community events throughout the year are sponsored by the Arts and Humanities council of SWLA. Last year, about $87,000 of its budget came from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), a program that would be eliminated if President Donald Trump's budget blueprint is enacted as is.
The NEA works to give everyone the opportunity to participate in the arts - from local concerts to arts programs in schools. The program gets less than 0.02 percent of the federal budget - about $148 million in 2016.
About $118 million of that money went toward grants and awards for arts programs, while 40 percent of that is given to state to allocate. Last year, the Louisiana Division of the Arts received $762,000.
"The NEA funds allowed us to provide support to 68 community arts organizations throughout the state," said Executive Director Cheryl Castille, "[and support] arts-in-education initiatives including funds that help to support the Louisiana A+ (arts integration) school program – Lake Charles Charter School is a member."
Also, $87,545 went to support the Arts and Humanities Council of SWLA, which provides grants to hundreds of local organizations, brings art to the streets of Lake Charles each year, and promotes creativity throughout the five- parish region.
"They receive $12,522 in operational support. The support from our partnership with the NEA allows the Louisiana Division of the Arts to provide $75,023 in administrative support and grant funding for the Decentralized Arts Funding program to the Arts and Humanities Council of SWLA," said Castille.
The NEA responded to the president's proposed budget saying in part:
We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every Congressional District in the nation.
We understand that the President’s budget request is a first step in a very long budget process; as part of that process we are working with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prepare information they have requested. At this time, the NEA continues to operate as usual and will do so until a new budget is enacted by Congress.
While the Arts Council isn't solely funded by the NEA, it does rely on that support. Of course, this is just the first budget blueprint; Congress will have the final say on spending.
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