by Robert Kimmel
Projects planned by Historic Hudson Valley could be in jeopardy if President Donald Trump’s preliminary budget proposals are all passed by Congress this month. Among the president’s proposals for the 2018 budget, beginning in October, are the virtual elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Those agencies have awarded pending grants totaling $633,223 to Historic Hudson Valley for projects, some of which are already in the implementation stage, according to Rob Schweitzer, the organization’s Vice President for Communications and Commerce. He said that both a planning grant and an implementation grant for $400,000 had been approved by the NEH for a website whose subject is Slavery in the Colonial North.
Schweitzer explained that after receiving grant approval from the NEH to move ahead following planning on the website, work had begun, including payment to outside vendors and consultants for the project, and they had been paid. “Now, we want to get reimbursed on the terms of the grant,” he said. However, if the National Endowments for the Humanities were eliminated, payments could cease, depending how that organization was phased out, he noted.
“That could be a disaster locally,” he asserted.
Another grant for $83,443 is to provide support for a week-long intensive training institute on Slavery in the Colonial North which brings teachers from around the country to Philipsburg Manor. Those teachers, in turn, return home to instruct their classes on the subject during the following semester.
“These programs are all centered on bringing awareness to the history of slavery in the Colonial North, visibility to Philipsburg Manor, and help raise the profile of Sleepy Hollow as a whole,” Schweitzer stated.
Some 10,000 local students also benefit from educational programming on the same subject, Schweitzer added. “If federal funding for these projects disappears, it will have a direct impact on our community and the students from Westchester and Connecticut who participate annually in programs based on this content,” he explained. “It may impact our ability to do as much of our educational programming.”
Education through a variety of initiatives is one of Historic Hudson Valley’s major missions. It also receives funding from Arts Westchester, with support from the county government and from the New York State Council on the Arts.
As part of President Trump’s preliminary budget cutting proposals, the National Endowment for the Humanities, in existence since 1965, would lose its $148 million budget, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a 20-year-old agency, would lose all of its $230 million federal budget. The Institute allotted more than $8 million to the New York State Library System last year, some of which filters down to local libraries in the form of services. In all, 19 agencies would lose some funding.
Congress, which does not have to endorse the President’s proposed budget plans, has until April 28 to approve a 2018 budget, and if it fails to do so, the federal government could face a partial shutdown starting the next day.