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house Bill H.R. 2127

Prohibiting the Use of Federal Funds to Buy Art for Embassies

Argument in favor

The use of federal funds to put art in U.S. embassies and consulates is an unnecessary expense, especially in a time of ballooning federal debt. Rather than spending taxpayer money on art, the federal government should use loaner programs or something similar.

Rick's Opinion
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05/12/2019
Why don’t the embassies use art that is donated by American artists? Maybe even art from students could be used. Don’t you think it would be an honor to have your work displayed in an embassy of the United States? Good art doesn’t have to be expensive.
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S's Opinion
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05/12/2019
Again not a real question. Embassy are places of work no need to buy high end art yet another political waste of money
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JTJ's Opinion
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05/12/2019
I bust my ass to pay my taxes, it is insulting that the government uses our money for garbage like this. Sell the art, cut expenses and balance the budget.
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Argument opposed

This bill would effectively kill the Art in Embassies program, which is an important soft power tool that’s helped the U.S. give citizens of other nations a valuable look into U.S. culture and art since 1963.

BlondieEsquire's Opinion
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05/12/2019
Art in embassies is not causing the ballooning debt. That would be the Tax Scam.
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Kodiwodi's Opinion
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05/12/2019
Oh sure. I think a place of diplomacy should look like a stockade rather than representing the great country we once were. Pitiful.
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Charles's Opinion
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05/12/2019
Money spent on art work is much better than money spent on a WALL!!!
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedApril 8th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 2127?

This bill — the No Taxpayer-Funded Art in Embassies Act — would prohibit the use of federal government funds for the purchase, installation, insurance, or transport of any art for the purposes of installation or display in any U.S. embassy, consulate, or other foreign mission. “Art” includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, industrial design, and craft art. 

Impact

Art; U.S. embassies; U.S. consulates; U.S. foreign missions; and the Art in Embassies program.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2127

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) introduced this bill to stop the federal government from spending any money on art for overseas U.S. embassies. Rep. Burchett’s office argues that if passed, this bill wouldn’t cut the Art in Embassies Program — but it would stop new taxpayer dollars’ use for the program. In lieu of spending government money, Rep. Burchett has suggested that the government could get creative and develop a loaner program with the Smithsonian or something similar.

However, ArtNet News points out, it’s unclear how new exhibitions would be funded without AIE funds, since this bill prohibits the federal government from not only paying for the art itself, but also for transporting and installing it.

Rep. Burchett was inspired to introduced this bill when he found out that as part of the State Dept.’s Art in Embassies program, officials had cut a check for $84,375 for an iron sculpture created by singer-songwriter Bob Dylan for the soon-to-be-completed U.S. Embassy in Mozambique. In response to critics who say this isn’t enough money to worry about, Rep. Burchett says, “Eighty-four thousand dollars is a heck of a lot of money for somebody in East Tennessee … dad gum it, we need to get out of that mentality. We are in debt, and we’re just running towards socialism. We can’t continue at this rate if we’re to survive. There’s just no question.”

The Art in Embassies (AIE) program was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Its aim is to “cross-cultural dialogue and mutual understanding” art displays at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. As a public-private partnership, the program engages “over 20,000 international participants, including artists, museums, galleries, universities, and private collectors” to develop and present approximately 60 exhibitions a year. The program has also installed over 70 permanent art collections in the State Dept.’s diplomatic facilities in over 200 venues in 189 countries.

AIE’s supporters argue that it promotes U.S. soft power, projecting U.S. culture and influence. The program’s website adds, that AIE “advances cultural diplomacy through artist exchanges and the presentation of works by outstanding American and international artists to audiences around the world.” However, Rep. Burchett disagrees with this claim. He says, “I just don’t buy that. I think it’s another government boondoggle and people at the State (Department) are out of touch with reality. Money could be spent on something better, I’d think.”

Writing in "Musée Magazine," Ashley Yu expresses her opposition to this bill:

“Burchett’s defunding of the 'Art in Embassies' is essentially the elimination of cultural diversity and exchange. In Burchett’s crude plan to remove art from all American embassies, the Congressman would prohibit the use of any funds “for the purchase, installation, insurance or transport of any art” in any U.S. consulate or embassy, proposing instead a drab, sterile, and ugly interior that would make you feel like you walked into a mausoleum. It feels like a bleaching of the multicultural fabric that America is known for. I’m not going to be the first to pretend that just because the government rents a painting by an Israeli artist means that it will be forgiven for the Gulf War. But all cynicism aside, the ‘Art in Embassies’ program is the first step to encourage multiculturalism in America--an area that we are failing at with the election of a racist president. Don’t even get me started on the systematic murder of young black boys by the police, or the imprisonment of women who have abortions in Texas, or the inevitable environmental destruction of our planet. America is an absolute mess, but at least let people look at some cool art in the embassies so things can feel less hopeless than it is.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / coldsnowstorm)

AKA

No Taxpayer-Funded Art in Embassies Act

Official Title

To prohibit the use of United States Government funds for art in United States embassies and consulates, and for other purposes.

    Why don’t the embassies use art that is donated by American artists? Maybe even art from students could be used. Don’t you think it would be an honor to have your work displayed in an embassy of the United States? Good art doesn’t have to be expensive.
    Like (98)
    Follow
    Share
    Art in embassies is not causing the ballooning debt. That would be the Tax Scam.
    Like (97)
    Follow
    Share
    Oh sure. I think a place of diplomacy should look like a stockade rather than representing the great country we once were. Pitiful.
    Like (94)
    Follow
    Share
    Money spent on art work is much better than money spent on a WALL!!!
    Like (73)
    Follow
    Share
    Again not a real question. Embassy are places of work no need to buy high end art yet another political waste of money
    Like (67)
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    Share
    We need to support the arts and American art needs to be shown worldwide, by our Government, Representing our people. Art belongs in our embassies and in public offices.
    Like (48)
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    God Why? I can tell a lot of people don’t understand the concept of soft power. The embassy is already look like ugly communist concrete boxes anyway because you took out the ability to make different types of buildings in different cities so our embassies already have nothing that matches with the cityscapes they are in. Have you seen the embassy buildings? They look like someone shit a concrete block. THEY ARE ALREADY UGLY. Why then will you stop the embassies from putting art the walls? That is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard! That makes us look terrible to other diplomats. We already are perceived in the world as being violent uncultured bullies. What kind of messages are you trying to send? We are not the borg, okay?!?! BUY ART.
    Like (35)
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    This seems an insignificant expenditure compared to the ludicrous expenditures elsewhere by either party in power.
    Like (33)
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    People who work in our embassies and people who visit them shouldn’t have to see a bland uninspiring office building. It certainly won’t portray our country in a positive light and it does a disservice to the men and women that work in our embassies. Art is part of our culture so there should be a reasonable amount of it in our embassies.
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    I bust my ass to pay my taxes, it is insulting that the government uses our money for garbage like this. Sell the art, cut expenses and balance the budget.
    Like (25)
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    This seems like a petty cash kind of expenditure that the embassies can handle on their own. Art should be on the walls of our embassies as long as expenses are transparent and reasonable. It seems silly that an elected official would raise this of all things as a point of fiscal conservatism.
    Like (24)
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    The left is full of “artsy types” and heaven knows they are of little use in the digital age. So they can contribute to society by making use of their skills and donating their time to create works of art for our embassies. This offsets the societal burden of otherwise unemployable people and enriches the atmosphere of our embassies at no cost to the taxpayer. Problem solved. Everyone wins.
    Like (19)
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    Tax the 1%. Support soft diplomacy.
    Like (17)
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    Good grief. Stop funding stupid projects like Trump’s wall and buy some art! I’d rather my tax dollars go towards a little humanity instead of against it.
    Like (16)
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    I am sure that the cost of works of art is a hell of a lot less the trump's racist wall!
    Like (13)
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    I want to be in an environment while working that is pleasurable. Stop being cheap and provide an aesthetically pleasing work environment.
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    So, the man who wants to be our dictator installed by Putin doesn’t care about beauty, about inspiration or about aesthetics. What a shock. Tell the narcissist you want to add gold Ts and he would spend any sum of our money he could get for self-aggrandizement. He only wants all our money, all our attention and to rule absolutely no matter how foolish or contradictory his latest momentary whim. Get him out before he destroys our beautiful country and our beloved planet.
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    Tim, this is newbie legislation. I understand. But there is simply not enough information here for a reader to make an informed decision. There are credible arguments on both sides but no specifics. No where do I see: How much is being spent ? On What ? How much will be saved ? If this program has been in existence since 1963, is the existing amount of art sufficient. Your suggestion about being creative and sharing may make sense but what is the cost to do so? Absent any financial justification and more information I must respond No.
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    Tough to justify with the amount of debt hanging over our country - pay off the debt then perhaps can purchase some luxuries.
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    There are so many really important issues....please leave art in embassies as it stands. And don’t waste time on this.
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