What sequestration means for the arts

The National Endowment for the Arts takes a $7.3 million hit as a result of sequestration

The government has started to phase in $85 billion in cuts to federal spending. These far-reaching and across-the-board cuts, referred to as sequestration, translate into a $7.3 million cut to the National Endowment for the Arts.

Sequestration will also impact the U.S. Department of Education, which administers the Arts in Education grants, as well as cultural agencies such as the Smithsonian, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Last week, the NEA announced that the agency will take a 5 percent, or $7.3 million, hit as a result of sequestration. According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the NEA plans to implement these cuts by reducing its grant portfolio by 3.2 percent and scaling back funding for state arts agencies by 2.7 percent. The NEA will not apply cuts retroactively.

These cuts have been expected ever since Congress failed in 2011 to find agreement on how to achieve $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.

Many see sequestration as just another step in a series of spending showdowns. Congress failed to enact an official budget for fiscal year 2013, meaning the government is running on a "continuing resolution," which authorizes agencies to spend funds at fiscal year 2012 levels (minus the cuts required by sequestration). This continuing resolution expires on March 27, setting the administration and Congress up for another budget battle.