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NEA and NEH under threat again in proposed 2019 US budget

Plus: Italian extreme-right party attacks Turin museum’s discount for Arabic speakers | Leni Riefenstahl estate donated to Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation | and grafitti artists awarded $6.7 million after works are destroyed

13 February 2018

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Trump proposes eliminating NEA and NEH in 2019 budget projection | President Donald Trump has revealed his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2019, a prospectus that once again envisages cutting subsidy to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The proposal, which recommends increased spending on the military and a substantial investment in infrastructure, would see funding to the NEA reduced from $150m to $29m, while the NEH’s budget would drop from $150m to $42m. Subsidy to the Institute of Museum and Library Services would also be reduced from $231m to $23m. The recommendations come based on the executive’s view that ‘private and other public sources’ mean that the cultural organisations in question are not ‘core Federal responsibilities’. A similar plan for funding cuts to the bodies in 2018 met with failure, with both the NEA and NEH experiencing modest budget increases.

Italian extreme-right party attacks Turin museum’s discount for Arabic speakers | Extreme-right political party affiliated with the coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi has criticised Turin’s Egyptian Museum for offering two-for-one entry discounts to Arabic speakers. According to the New York Times, the ‘Brothers of Italy’ group staged a protest outside the museum last week, accusing it of ‘discriminating against Italians’. In a widely shared intervention, director Christian Greco subsequently confronted the protestors, explaining that such temporary discounts were often used to attract visitors from many different backgrounds. Italy’s culture minister has since defended Greco’s position.

Leni Riefenstahl estate donated to Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation | Leni Riefenstahl’s heir has donated the film-maker’s estate to the body that manages Berlin’s museums, reports the Art Newspaper. The bequest, which consists of photographs, films, letters and other documents, had remained in Riefenstahl’s former home near Munich for some years. The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation says that it intends to raise funds to research and review the donation, which will be stored at Berlin’s Museum of Photography.

Grafitti artists awarded $6.7 million after works are destroyed | A group of 21 street artists have been awarded $6.7m after a judge in Brooklyn ruled that their works of art were ‘wrongfully and willfully destroyed’ by a local landlord. The artists had sued under the 1990 Visual Rights Act after a complex of warehouse buildings regarded by some as ‘the world’s largest collection of quality outdoor aerosol art’ was whitewashed and subsequently pulled down to make way for residential development.

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