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Trump’s 2019 Budget Proposes Cuts to Arts Funding

This week, President Donald Trump released his $4.4 trillion budget proposal for 2019, which recommends drastically cutting funding for four federal cultural agencies, the Washington Post reported.

Those four agencies, which have long been Republican targets, are the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). According to the Post, the four would share $109 million in 2019, an overall cut of $917 million.

The move would save almost $1 billion from the proposed budget, which also raises the deficit, decreases social safety net funding, and increases military spending. According to the Post, the Trump administration’s explanation for the proposed cuts is that “the work of the cultural agencies isn’t a core federal responsibility, and that most are supported with private donations.”

Trump similarly threatened to cut these four agencies last year, but the plan was met with criticism from arts communities and cultural leaders and was ultimately rejected by Congress.

Penguin Young Readers Launches Kokila Imprint for Diverse Books

Penguin Young Readers has announced the launch of Kokila, a new imprint focusing on diverse books for children and young adults; the debut list will launch in summer 2019.

The imprint’s mission, according to Penguin, is to “add depth and nuance to the way children and young adults see the world and their place in it,” Publishers Weekly reported. Kokila will release 15–20 fiction and nonfiction titles each year, including picture books, middle grade titles, books for young adults, and graphic novels. Authors and illustrators already set to be published under the new imprint include Pablo Cartaya, Sherine Handy, Myra El-Mir, Isabel Quintero, Zeke Peña, John Corey Whaley, Calista Brill, and Nilah Magruder.

Namrata Tripathi, previously associate publisher and editorial director of Dial Books for Young Readers, will be the publisher of Kokila. She is also co-chair of the diversity hiring committee at Penguin Random House and a founding member of the CBC Diversity Committee. Other staff will include Kokila Editor Joanna Cárdenas, currently an editor at Viking Children’s Books, and Art Director Jasmin Rubero, currently associate art director for Dial Books for Young Readers.

Elizabeth Alexander Named President of Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Elizabeth Alexander has been elected the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s next president by the Board of Trustees, the Foundation has announced.

Effective March 2018, Alexander, a renowned writer, poet, and scholar, will succeed Earl Lewis, who has served since 2013 as president of the prestigious foundation for the arts and humanities. According to the foundation’s website, as president, Alexander “expects to build on the Foundation’s success to date in supporting diversification of educational, scholarly, and cultural organizations with an innovative focus on cultivating institutional capacity for inclusive leadership; and she seeks to widen and deepen the impact of the Foundation’s support for a vision of an inclusive America.”

Alexander is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Light of the World, a finalist in 2016 for the Pulitzer Prize and a number-one Indie Next List pick; six books of poetry, including American Sublime, a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize; and two essay collections: The Black Interior and Power and Possibility

New Hires at Harvard University Press, Barnes & Noble

Harvard University Press has appointed Joy de Menil to the newly created position of executive editor, the publisher has reported.

Working from Washington, D.C., de Menil will work on maximizing the commercial potential of HUP’s trade list. She has also been appointed director of Belknap Publishing, an imprint of the Press, to help with rebranding. Most recently, de Menil was an executive editor at Viking; prior to that she was an acquiring editor at Random House, where she worked on bestsellers like Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.

Business Wire reported Monday that Timothy Mantel has joined Barnes & Noble as the company’s new chief merchandising officer, effective immediately. Mantel will report to CEO Demos Parneros and will be responsible for “driving sales and profitability in all areas of merchandising within the Company, including Books, Toys & Games, Gift, Newsstand and Music and Entertainment.” Prior to joining B&N, Mantel served as senior vice president of food, household essentials, and food service at Target Corporation.

Imprisoned Myanmar Reporters to Receive PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award  

This May, PEN America will honor imprisoned Myanmar reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo with the 2018 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, the free speech organization announced Tuesday.

The two reporters were arrested on December 12, 2017, and charged with violating the country’s Official Secrets Act for their work investigating violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

“The prosecution of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo for the crime of exposing alleged atrocities is a jarring reminder that the fight for free expression in Myanmar remains incomplete and urgent,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America. “We are proud to honor these dauntless reporters and hope the award sounds a powerful signal that global concern for human rights in Myanmar will not let up.”

The reporters will be recognized at the 2018 PEN America Literary Gala on May 22 in New York City.