Last week, President Trump announced his first proposed budget plan for 2018. With that budget, comes a substantial amount of cuts, and perhaps none more controversial than his plan to completely eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts. Although the annual budget for this independent agency is a small fraction of the full United States budget, it has made a huge impact on arts programs all over the country.
The NEA was signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities, an agency that is also on the chopping block within Trump’s new budget plan. The Endowment spreads millions of dollars of funding across the country each year, in order to bring more arts and culture into places that otherwise could not afford to. The NEA sent $47 million dollars in funding to all 50 states in 2016. If eliminated, poverty-stricken neighborhoods will be affected most, as around 54 percent of NEA funds are granted to low-income areas.
“Art is where so much original thought comes from, and when leadership is trying to hold people back, they need to get rid of that original thought. It’s so dangerous that Trump is trying to cut arts funding, just because of that reason. Arts funding is absolutely crucial to advancing the ideology of our society, and without it there are so many important thoughts that are going to go unrecognized,” said University Freshman and Arts and Entertainment Management major Alex Bosworth.
Trump’s proposed plan will most likely meet harsh criticism from Congress, who would be the ones to repeal the act if these agencies are eliminated. New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has called the budget proposal a “huge and irresponsible mistake.” Many arts groups, including prominent museums all over the country, have already started campaigns to convince Congress to save both the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities. It has become clear that the controversial proposal will not be passed without a fight.
Professor for the University’s BFA Acting Program Grant Kretchik said of the proposed budget, “What’s interesting about the NEA is that it has a healthy return and that is good for business. Every one dollar of NEA grants generates another seven dollars in the economy… Interestingly, artists have long been powerful voices in politics and social justice issues, and I believe we will see a flood of art that will challenge the legitimacy and credibility of this administration. Cutting funding in someway will limit a lot of projects and that seems like a fiscal way to censor and silence the artistic community. We will see these fund go towards his beloved wall and military spending but if we don’t have art and freedoms to express what’s the point of war?”
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