President Trump to Cut NEA Funding in Proposed Budget

The paint may dry up with the funding.

by Annie Muscat
Staff Art Avenger

Donald Trump is truly a man of his word. The fairly recently inaugurat­ed president seems to be following through with his campaign promise to “Make America Great Again”…for straight white cisgender males, that is. If you’ve been following the news at all lately, you’re probably aware of the ~ex­ecutive order extravaganza~, including the reinstatement of the anti-abortion global gag rule and the barring of citi­zens from seven Middle Eastern coun­tries from entering the United States.

But of course the drastic changes don’t end there. As part of his plan to greatly decrease federal spending, Trump is issuing a budget proposal which will allegedly see the elimi­nation of both the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and the Nation En­dowment for the Humani­ties (NEH).

 

nea-lockup-a
Funding for these programs is >.005 of the national budget but IT MUST BE CUT!

 

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA strives to promote equal access to the arts, celebrate cul­tural diversity, and encour­age leadership in art edu­cation. The independent agency envisions “a nation in which every American benefits from arts engage­ment, and every commu­nity recognizes and celebrates its as­pirations and achievements through the arts”. A significant majority of the NEA’s project-based funds is allotted as awards and grants to individual artists and organizations across the country. Among the support it provides, the NEA annually funds a creative arts therapy program for military personnel and is­sues grants for town revitalization proj­ects in order to improve infrastructure and local programs.

This is not the first time the NEA has been a conservative target under fire, stemming from the long-held belief that backing the arts is wasteful. Dur­ing his presidency, Ronald Reagan con­sidered defunding the organization al­together and more recently, Paul Ryan proposed its removal from government funding in his 2015 budget. So how much federal spending is allocated to the National Endowment for the Arts? In 2016, the total budget for the NEA was 147.9 million, which equates to .004 percent of the entire federal budget. .004 percent, people. In fact, funding the NEA has actually proven to be a good investment in the long-term. According to arts.gov, one dollar of NEA funding leverages up to nine dollars in private and other public funds.

Political figures, artists, and art en­thusiasts everywhere are voicing their concern and disapproval of the pro­posed defunding. Connecticut senator Chris Murphy, an avid supporter of arts endowment, stated that “each year, the arts generate approximately $135 billion in economic activity, employing over 4 million Americans and generat­ing over $86 billion in household in­come. But more than their positive eco­nomic impact, the arts strengthen and build communities…providing venues for people from disparate communities to come together and share a common experience”.

Some are taking an even more active approach in ensuring the NEA remains a government-subsidized organization. Artist Paul Weston, known for his works exploring media influence on culture, announced his intention to mail Presi­dent Trump a piece of art daily for the subsequent four years of his presiden­cy.

Weston has dubbed his artistic cam­paign, #148MillionDollars, reflecting the amount of funding the NEA will for­feit if Trump’s proposed budget is ap­proved. His artworks have been sent each day to either the White House or Trump Towers and are understand­ably political in nature. One such rough sketch depicts an igloo adorned with a TV antenna, alluding to the impending danger of climate change and Trump’s dismissal of the issue. Other artists have decided to join him in his endeav­or. To achieve his goal, Weston has budgeted $178.85 in stamps alone to send his artworks. He claims that art is the “ammunition” which can demon­strate an impact.

Although all artistic insti­tutions across the country would be affected by the de­funding of the NEA, larger in­stitutions in big cities, (think New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles), would likely be subsidized by private funders. Thus, promi­nent urban hubs would be more resilient. It’s cultural and artistic centers in rural areas without access to cer­tain resources that would be most profoundly impacted. Arts education programs which provide children and adults alike with creative out­lets and allow them to con­nect with others, would be stripped from schools. Grants issued to artists and organizations would be curbed, hindering the production of artworks, performances, and films.

Not only would the elimination of NEA funding be catastrophic for the ar­tistic community, but it would also pose a significant symbolic loss. The NEA represents equal access to the arts for every person. It presents opportunities for people to challenge themselves in­tellectually through artistic creativity and contemplation. It provokes a dia­logue and exposes individuals to other cultures and ways of life.

Essentially, Donald Trump should pay less attention to “alternative facts” and more attention to the actual people who greatly benefit, whether directly or indirectly, from the NEA and its ser­vices. In other words, the man needs to back the f*ck up.

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