On Candidates' Arts Report Cards, Obama Gets Good Grades While Romney Fails

On Candidates' Arts Report Cards, Obama Gets Good Grades While Romney Fails
President Barack Obama debates with Republican candidate Mitt Romney
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The U.S. faces another historic neck-and-neck election tomorrow, with issues like reproductive rights, same-sex marriage, health-care, and economic stimulus hanging in the balance — and now, added to that, addressing disaster relief following the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. The Americans for the Arts Action Fund — a non-profit dedicated to supporting the arts and arts education in the U.S. — has released an updated round-up of where the presidential and vice-presidential candidates stand on the arts.

Since the election is tomorrow, and we know you will all be getting up early (just like us) to go to the polls and cast your ballots, we’ve digested some of their findings to keep you informed as you vote.


Federal Support for the Arts

President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden’s current administration has proposed though the Appropriations Requests to Congress for the NEA and NEH in 2013 an increase of $9 million. Meanwhile, Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan have come under fire for proposing a reduction in subsidies for the arts as a key part of their national savings platform, claiming that cutting funding to the NEA, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Legal Services Corporation will save $600 million that could be redirected elsewhere.

Federal Support for Museums and Libraries

In addition to their proposal for increased funding to the NEH, Obama and Biden want to level funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services to $232 million. Romney and Ryan’s positions on funding museums and libraries are a little less clear; Ryan supported a budget that passed in the House of Representatives which calls for disbanding the Institute altogether, while there is no official stance from Romney’s campaign.

Title I Funding for Arts Education

The Democratic candidates are maintaining their current position to hold Title I in place with level funding, while the Republican nominees want to expand federal support to pay for public, charter, or private schools, possibly taking away from current arts education funds.

General Position on the Arts & Arts Education

The DNC’s platform clearly states, “We are committed to continuing the policies and programs that have already done so much for our creative arts industry and economy,” and “We will continue to support public funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and for programs providing art and music education in primary and secondary schools.” However, the Arts Action Fund was unable to find anything similar from the GOP.

The Fund's helpful guide to the 2012 candidates' positions on the arts also includes each party’s records on increasing federal support for public broadcasting, maintaining support of national and community service for the arts, and incentives for donations to non-profit arts institutions.

And while Obama and Romney are certainly taking center stage in tomorrow’s election, many states are holding elections for new and incumbent congressional candidates with equally important positions on the arts. The Arts Action Fund has put together an incredibly helpful interactive graded report card with the voting history of each representative, to make it easier for voters to find out about local and state initiatives for the arts that will be affected by this election.

To see the Americans for the Arts Action Fund's full round-up of the 2012 Presidential Candiates Arts Positions click here.