WESA. The Carnegie Museums. The Carnegie Library. Even the Mattress Factory. All of these beloved Pittsburgh institutions could face serious problems if even some of the cuts proposed in the Trump administration’s budget for the 2018 fiscal year go through. One especially significant move proposed in the budget is the elimination of 19 independent federal organizations. Four of these organizations- the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)- are critical to providing Pittsburgh’s cultural institutions with money and other resources.
In 2012, the Carnegie Library System was one of twelve libraries and museums that received part of $1.2 million in funding from the IMLS to create innovative learning areas at their locations. With that money, the library has been able to modernize its facilities for ease of use and buy interesting tools that allow teens and kids to create content, not just consume it. Many of the Obama students who visit the East Liberty library are indirect beneficiaries of the money given by the IMLS. While this process has been completed, the IMLS is the main source of federal funding for the Carnegie Libraries, and further innovation by the library will be extremely difficult without that money. The IMLS has also provided funding for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to focus on science education, a big concern among major museums.
Both the NEA and the NEH have had important effects on Pittsburgh’s cultural institutions. Between 2014-2016, the NEH gave $1.4 million to thirty organizations in Pittsburgh, including the Museum of Natural History, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), MCG Jazz, the Mattress Factory, and the Pittsburgh Office of Public Art. While statistics show that local, state, and federal funding only account for about 7% of nonprofit arts organizations’ funds, the money given by the NEH and NEA has an outsize positive effect because of the high standards the NEH and NEA have in giving grants. When grants are given by the NEH and NEA to cultural organizations, it encourages other groups to donate, causes economic development, and often involves efforts to match funding, bringing in even more money, and this has proved true in Pittsburgh. Without NEH and NEA funding, the PSO especially could suffer, due to its already significant financial worries.
Last but certainly not least in this list is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is the organization responsible for NPR and PBS. NPR has two member stations in Pittsburgh, WESA 90.5 and WQED-FM. WQED-TV, the sister channel of WQED-FM, is a PBS member station. The two radio stations rely on NPR to provide a large part of their content, especially Morning Edition and All Things Considered, the two most popular radio programs in the country. WQED and PBS also have a tight relationship, since WQED was the station that originally produced Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Without the CPB, radio stations in Pittsburgh will lose a lot of their content, and children around the city will have a more difficult time accessing entertaining and educational materials.