Trump to cut arts funding in new budget
Things keep getting worse and worse as early reports of US President Donald Trump’s budget plan indicate cutting the arts funding.
President Trump’s first federal budget plan supposedly proposes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
Other budgets also affected were the scrapping of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is the key revenue source for PBS and the National Public Radio stations, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The irony, of course, is that– as one Tweet pointed out– the budget being allotted for the security of Trump Towers now is more than the budget for these arts funding.
Cutting the arts funding
The funding for the NEA and the NEH were first created in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who said that any advanced civilization mustvalue the arts, the humanities, and cultural activity.
This is the first time a president has called for the ending of the endowments, which has a combined annual budget of $300 million. In total, the four agencies have a budget of US$148 million a year.
Though Congress will still write the federal budget, the New York Times pointed out that the White House budget plans “telegraph a president’s priorities.”
And with both houses of Congress under the control of the Republicans, there’s a bigger chance that Trump’s plan would happen.
“We are greatly saddened to learn of this proposal for elimination, as NEH has made significant contributions to the public good,” said William D. Adams, chairman of the humanities endowment, in a statement.
Currently, arts groups are lobbying to Republicans in Congress to save the endowments. Likewise, the Association of Art Museum Directors issued a statement denouncing Trump’s plan.
“I’m sort of dumbstruck. I’m hopeful that Congress will take the time to say, ‘Hey, wait a second. We need these cultural elements to our society’,” said Brian Ferriso, the association’s president.
Meanwhile, an advocacy group of literary figures, PEN America, came up with a petition urging to save the endowments. It already has 200,000 signatures, with prominent writers like Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood on board.
The cost of arts funding
According to The Atlantic, the grants by the NEA is given out to all 50 states of the US and in all congressional districts.
Likewise, 65 percent of the NEA’s direct grants are given to small and medium-sized arts groups in rural and underserved communities.
An example here is the Wormfarm Institute in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, which focuses on culture and agriculture. The institute only has a single donor contributing more than US$1,000 in 2015. Thanks to the NEA, it would get $35,000 this year.
Meanwhile, 40 percent of NEA-supported activities happen in high-poverty neighborhoods, while 36 percent of grarnts help underserved populations like veterans and people with disabilities.
In comparison, a Tweet noted that while the funding for these costs US$148 million, current security costs to guard the Trump Towers is around US$183 million for each year of the Trump presidency.