BEND, OR -- President Trump’s federal budget proposal includes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). During last week’s town hall in Bend, Congressman Greg Walden was asked why he hadn’t joined over 150 other members of Congress on a letter supporting the agencies. Deschutes Historical Museum Director Kelly Cannon-Miller listened carefully to his answer. She tells KBND News, "Little things like IMLS get lost in the shuffle of the really big topics, but they make a really big impact. And, they especially have impact in small and rural areas like the Second District that Walden represents. And the great news is that Walden said, ‘I haven’t seen it and I’ll look into it.’ This isn’t a partisan issue; this is libraries and museums and what they do for our communities on a daily basis."
Cannon-Miller acknowledges cuts have occurred in the past but says, "The president is calling for the elimination of these agencies altogether, not just reducing the budget. So, it’s more critical this time around." And, she's worried about what it would mean to her organization if the President gets his way. "Just between 2014 and 2016, the combination of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and IMLS poured millions into just Oregon. Just IMLS in those two years provided $1.5 million to 12 different Oregon museums."
According to the IMLS, it contributes more than $214 million to museums and libraries, nationwide. But, Cannon-Miller says it’s difficult to know just what the financial impact would be on her museum if the NEA, NEH and IMLS were to be eliminated, "It would have a trickle-down effect. There’s probably dozens and dozens of different grants that each of these agencies offer. So, all of those would go away, for one." Aside from those direct grants, she says they also contribute to money distributed by statewide programs, which would also probably end, like the state library grant that funds the Oregon Battle of the Books.
Cannon-Miller says, "It’s not just about saving the budget line-item. It’s about saying these things are important." She says, "We want to know what matters and to be able to say ‘this matters to our community; this matters to us as a country to have these institutions.’ It says something when it’s eliminated at the national level. What do we value as a country?" She says funding the NEA, NEH and IMLS costs the average American a couple dollars a year in taxes.