President Joseph R. Biden (Photo credit: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty)

On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed a $1.7 trillion spending bill into law for fiscal year 2023. The spending package includes an increase of $27 million over the previous fiscal year for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The endowment receives a total of $207 million. The bill first passed in the Senate before clearing a vote in the House on December 23, 2022.

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, located in Washington, D.C., receives an increase of $4.9 million over the 2022 fiscal year, totaling $45.38 million. This new funding level meets the President’s budget request.

Overall, the budget allocates $15.1 billion for programs within the U.S. Department of the Interior, under which the NEA falls. The spending bill also keeps the government operational through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2023.

The NEA is an independent federal agency and the largest funder of the arts and arts education throughout the U.S. Chaired by Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, the NEA offers support through grantmaking and research on the impact of the arts, as well as partnerships to drive arts programming and accessibility. 

Applications for Grants for Arts Projects for fiscal year 2024 are currently open. A webinar outlining the program’s guidelines and advice for applicants will be held on Jan. 11 at 3 p.m. ET. The webinar will also include a Q&A session. Applications are due on Feb. 9.

For fiscal year 2022, the NEA distributed 20 grants to organizations and projects in the musical theater category and 145 grants to those in the theater category. Recipients include incubators like Musical Theatre Factory and Space on Ryder Farm; organizations like the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York and the Drama League; Off-Broadway theaters such as The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, Primary Stages and the WP Theater; as well as nonprofit theater companies Lincoln Center Theater and Roundabout Theatre Company, which each produce on Broadway.

Among its other programs, the NEA presents the annual Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge with the American Theatre Wing, in collaboration with Disney Theatrical Productions, Concord Theatricals, NMPA SONGS Foundation and iHeartRadio Broadway. 

Jackson, who has served as NEA chair since January 2022, guides with the principle that all Americans can and should lead “artful lives,” which, as she wrote in her 2022 end-of-year message, “encompasses both the creation and consumption of professional art, as well as the ways that arts and culture are a part of our everyday lived experiences of making, doing, teaching and learning.”

In the written message, Jackson also acknowledged President Biden’s support from earlier in the year via his executive order “that includes a whole-of-government approach for advancing the arts, the humanities and museum and library services.” The order advocates integration of the arts into policies, initiatives and partnerships in the federal government.