Trickle down economics: Cuts above, bleeding below

January 20, 1995|By Linell Smith | Linell Smith,Sun Staff Writer

While most public attention has focused on the future of the National Endowment for the Arts, two other federal agencies that help fuel cultural life in the United States also face deep budget cuts or elimination.

The National Endowment for the Humanities, which had a 1994 budget of $177 million, supports research, education, preservation projects and public programs in the humanities. And the Institute for Museum Services, with its annual budget of about $29 million, helps museums with their management and comprehensive collections care.

Created 30 years ago along with the NEA, the NEH gives grants to support conservation of the nation's cultural resources; research and educational opportunities for humanities professors, independent scholars and school teachers; the writing and publication of scholarly texts; museum exhibitions; TV and radio programs among others.

Recent NEH grant recipients in metropolitan Baltimore include:

* Maryland Humanities Council: about $550,000 each year, most of its budget. Last year in Baltimore, Humanities Council grants helped pay, for example, an exhibit about Baltimorean Henrietta Szold at the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland and a radio series of "historical baseball minutes" about Babe Ruth.

* The Walters Art Gallery: $368,962 to support "Pandora's Box: Women in Classical Greece," an exhibition on the representation of women in classical Greece.

* Friends School of Baltimore: $336,000 for its summer institutes on Russian language and culture for 50 teachers of Russian from secondary schools and small colleges.

* The Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Inc.: $45,000 to support planning for an exhibition on Baltimore's Royal Theater and the history of black entertainers in America.

* Johns Hopkins University: $39,649 to support preparation of a preservation plan for library and archival materials in Maryland.

* Julie Jeffrey: $30,000 to the Goucher College scholar to support research in grass roots anti-slavery activities.

"Not funding the NEH would mean our demise," says Barbara Wells Sarudy, executive director of the 20-year-old Maryland Humanities Council. Last year the council received only $35,000 in state funding, compared to $7.8 million for the Maryland State Arts Council.

The other federal agency at risk, the Institute for Museum Services, is much smaller than NEA or NEH. Established by Congress in 1976, it is museums' only federal source for general operating support.

It gives grants to aquariums; zoos; art, children's and history museums; historic houses and sites; nature centers; natural history and anthropology museums; planetariums and science and technology centers.

Last year's IMS awards to Maryland organizations for operating funds included:

* The Maryland Historical Society: $112,500

* Historic St. Mary's City in St. Mary's City: $112,500

* The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael's: $112,500

* The Museum for Contemporary Arts: $31,634

To support conservation projects:

* Walters Art Gallery: $21,450

* Historic Annapolis, Inc.: $12,213

And both:

* Baltimore Museum of Art: $137,500

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