Since 1973, the Florida Humanities Council has brought history programs, authors, and Smithsonian exhibits to communities across the state.
It receives most of its funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, but the state has chipped in money since the early 2000s. Last year, the council received $500,000, about 25% of its total budget.
That funding is going away when the new state budget goes into effect July 1, and the council isn’t sure why.
“Each year the Humanities Council submits its request. I just think, unfortunately, we weren’t able to make as convincing of a case this year," said Keith Simmons, the council’s communications director. “But we’re determined to make an even stronger case next year.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis included $500,000 for the council in his proposed budget. An appropriations bill (HB 4401) sponsored by Rep. Jayer Williamson, a Santa Rosa County Republican, died in the House Appropriations Committee. Williamson's bill included the full $500,000. The House version of the budget cut the council's funding to $100,000, while Senate budget writers zeroed out the funding entirely.
Simmons says the council is still trying to figure out which programs to cut.
“What is clear is we’re not going to be able to offer content and opportunities at the same volume as we have in previous years,” he said.
"We believe this is an opportunity to clarify our mission, become more visible and relevant and to rally support for the humanities as essential to a functioning democracy," executive director Steve Seibert wrote in a statement on the council's website.