American Folklife Center Update 7/25/95

Alan A. Jabbour (ajab@LOC.GOV)
Tue, 25 Jul 1995 14:58:34 -0400

Many people have called, written, visited, faxed, or e-mailed expressing
concern for the status of the American Folklife Center. Following is
a status report.

On June 22 the Center's entire budget for fiscal year 1996 was removed by an
amendment on the floor of the House of Representatives and transferred to
another agency. The floor debate included strong defense of the Center by
several Congressmen: Vic Fazio (D-CA), Bill Emerson (R-MO), Bill
Rchardson (D-NM), and John Spratt (D-SC). Though they did not prevail,
their arguments influenced subsequent events as the legislative
appropriations bill (of which the Library of Congress is a part) moved to
Senate consideration.

On July 18 the Senate Appropriations Committee reported to the Senate
floor a legislative branch appropriations bill which fully restored the
Center's fiscal year 1996 budget. The Committee Report, which
accompanies the bill, included the following two paragraphs:

"The Committee's recommendation includes funding for the American
Folklife Center at the same level provided in fiscal year 1995. The
Center was created within the Library in 1976 by passage of Public Law
94-201, the American Folklife Preservation Act. Within the Center
resides the archive of folk culture, the Nation's preeminent
collection of folklife documentation, including 1,500,000 sound
recordings, manuscripts, still photographs, motion pictures, and other
materials documenting the grassroots cultural traditions of the
American people.

"The Center's staff of 15 people manages collections, provides
assistance to local and regional folklife efforts, and develops
programs. Those programs, combined with presentations, research
projects, publications, and exhibitions benefit hundreds of thousands
of Americans annually and strengthen public education about American
cultural heritage. The Committee believes this vibrant element of the
Library provides a benefit to the American people far greater than its
relatively low cost, and strongly supports its activities."

On July 20 the legislative appropriations bill was passed on the floor
of the Senate. The remaining steps are a House-Senate Conference
reconciling differences between the two bills, then signing the bill
into law by the President.

Meanwhile, the authorization process has begun for the American
Folklife Center. (The original authorization was the bill creating
the Center in 1976; that authorization must periodically be
extended. Appropriations bills, on the other hand, provide annual
funding for entities that are already authorized.) Senator Hatfield (R-OR)
introduced a four-year authorization bill (S. 1051), cosponsored by
Senators Stevens (R-AK), Cochran (R-MS), Pell (D-RI), Moynihan
(D-NY), and Reid (D-NV). Senator Hatfield and Senator Reid both
spoke on behalf of the Center as they introduced the bill on the
Senate floor.

Alan Jabbour, Director
American Folklife Center
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540-8100
Phone (202) 707-6590 Fax (202) 707-2076