The Obama administration has requested a $161.3 million budget for the N.E.A. for the 2011 fiscal year, the same as its request for 2010 but less than the $167.5 million budget that Congress ultimately passed. Mr. Landesman has put his stamp on the budget, cutting a program known as American Masterpieces (though sparing one of its most popular components, the Big Read) and devoting $5 million to a pilot program, Our Town, that will support the creation of local arts districts. When Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho, the ranking Republican on the subcommittee, asked what he would do if Congress gave him $180 million, Mr. Landesman replied that Our Town could be expanded to reach more than the 35 communities currently planned.
Check out the full story at http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/n-e-a-chairman-testifies-on-capitol-hill/