NEA may cut up to $1 million in PBS arts programming support

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The National Endowment for the Arts is considering substantial cuts — possibly totaling $1 million — in funding for PBS arts programming through the NEA’s Arts in Media initiative, according to the New York Times.

The NEA told execs with Great Performances and American Masters that the shows would each receive $50,000 in the 2012 financing cycle, down from $400,000 each in 2011. Independent Lens would get $50,000, down from $170,000; P.O.V., $100,000, down from $250,000. KQED in San Francisco was turned down for a $350,000 request; it received $200,000 for its PBS series Sound Tracks in 2011.

Simon Kilmurry, executive director of P.O.V., told the newspaper that the proposed cuts were “a huge surprise and a blow to how much we can support filmmakers, and it’s perplexing.”

Last year the NEA revamped and renamed its Arts on Radio and Television category of grants as Arts in Media. Of that $4 million, about half previously went to shows on PBS. But this year the category is open to content on media platforms including online, mobile, theatrical release and digital games. PubTV insiders said the NEA had about 350 applicants this year, compared with about 150 last year, with the same amount of cash available.

The grants will be announced April 25.