The National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities have requested moderate increases in their appropriations for fiscal 1981, which begins next October. Both endowments are staying close to the 9 percent increase in the overall budget, with Arts asking for an increase of 8.8 percent and Humanities requesting 9.5 percent.

The new appropriations requested total $167.9 million for Arts (up $13.6 million from the current figure) and $164.3 million for Humanities (an increase of $14.2 million.)

The new budgets, if approved, will permit the endowments to maintain present levels of activity in most areas and attempt some expansion of selected programs. The most notable increase in activity under the new budgets would be an additional $17.5 million for arts programs assisted by the Arts endowment -- the largest increase since 1975 -- which would bring the total funding in this area to $114.5 million.

The Humanities endowment hopes to increase its international programs, which include research on the history and culture of foreign countries as well as helping to fund American participation in some international activities. Also getting priority under the new budget would be conservation activities for important collections of old books and archival materials which are now rapidly deteriorating, and efforts to reach parts of the population which are now underserved.

Joseph Duffey, chairman of the Humanities endowment, pointed out in a prepared statement that federal appropriations for the humanities are small compared to those for the sciences. In 1979, he said, the NEH appropriation was less than one-half of one percent of federal support for scientific and technical research and development.

Livingston Biddle, chairman of the Arts endowment, stressed that the budget increase would provide "new money to make quality arts more available to people in all parts of the country." He said that plans to reach wider audiences would involve greater use of the media (television, radio and film) as well as increased touring by recognized performing arts organizations.