NEA faces huge cuts in funding and staff level

The National Endowment for the Arts – home of the US Design Programme – is to have its funding and staff slashed following the government’s decision to drastically reduce the NEA’s powers (DW 21 July).

The bill, which has been approved by the House and Senate, is yet to be signed by President Clinton. It calls for funding for the NEA to be hacked from 110m to 64.5m. The programme’s current team of ten full-time staff will be cut to two.

“Our funding has been eviscerated,” says deputy director of the NEA’s Design Programme Randy Swearer.

Without the Design Programme to administer funding, design organisations will have to compete with other art disciplines for finances, says Swearer.

With such drastic changes the NEA’s plans for a White House Council on Design have been put on hold. Says Swearer: “It’s just not going to happen right now.”

The nation’s design community will feel the cuts most where design, free-thinking and research intersect, and in the more innovative areas, says Swearer.

The NEA’s planned national forum on design, bringing together government agencies with the NEA and the private sector to discuss sustaining design, has consequently been postponed from November to February. “It does not seem like a great time to celebrate design,” Swearer explains.

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