Trump’s arts council resigns

Trump’s arts council resigns


norman lebrecht

August 19, 2017

All 16 members of Donald Trump’s committee on the arts and humanities resigned today in a public letter, criticising his ‘support for hate groups and terrorists who killed and injured fellow Americans in Charlottesville.’

The letter, which you can read here, is impressive.

But you do have to wonder why these dignitaries agreed in the first place to serve a President who has pledged to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts.

These are the resignees:

Paula Boggs, Chuck Close, Richard Cohen, Fred Goldring, Howard L. Gottlieb, Vicki Kennedy, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anne Luzzatto, Thom Mayne, Kalpen Modi, Eric Ortner,  Ken Solomon, Caroline Taylor, Jill Cooper Udall, Andrew Weinstein, John Lloyd Young


UPDATE: It was further announced today that President Donald Trump and the First Lady will not attend the 2017 Kennedy Center Honors ceremony this December to avert ‘any political distractions.’



  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    It’s my understanding that the committee was already in place having as the article says been founded by Reagan in1982, they are not the orange imbeciles appointments.

  • Steve P says:

    Good. Bout time we fixed roads and built walls with the money wasted on whatever idiotic initiatives these leftists kooks were advocating.

    • FB says:

      Or taught spelling and grammar. Really Steve, why be the stereotype?

    • NYMike says:

      Since your posts on this blog leave your knowledge of, love for music or musical ability in doubt, one must wonder why you’re here. You reek of nothing but right-wing trolling. You’ll be the next great conductor of the Berlin Phil sooner than the wall will be built.

      The NEA and NEH, which the orange buffoon has pledged to abolish, have done much good since their inception. But then, impervious to the facts, you’ll of course disagree.

    • Anon says:

      You simply have no idea, what culture is and how it is fostered and developed.
      It’s ok, not all members of society can be smart.
      But what happened, that all dimwits today feel the need and encouragement, to open their mouths, instead of staying silent in shame and respect for the smarter?

  • AMetFan says:

    So much for informed opinions… Despite the fact that it is called the President’s Commission, maybe, just maybe, these are dedicated artists and patriotic Americans–regardless of party affiliation–who had hoped to use their prominence to influence a positive outcome for the arts in our nation. It is unfortunate that they have, albeit correctly, felt that their collective consciences could not allow them to fulfill their intention. There will be many, many more defections in numerous sectors of the US government before this charade is over, self-serving senators and congressman notwithstanding. At least these sixteen stood up, proudly gave their names, and stated their rationale for their action. They and the initiatives they tried to effect should be applauded, not derided.

  • PaulD says:

    So, if Leonard Bernstein were alive today, and hosted a party featuring the Black Panthers, would he be accused of supporting a “hate group”?

    • Sue says:

      I’m not American but I’m guessing probably not because Bernstein was fortunate to have lived in a nation which then loved freedom of speech and association – and where sectarian interests didn’t try to stop him speaking or telling him how he ought to live and think.

    • Augustine says:

      Just to be clear about this:
      Bernstein was quoted in NYT, 22 Oct 1980: “I have substantial evidence now available to all that the FBI conspired to foment hatred and violent dissension among blacks, among Jews and between blacks and Jews. My late wife and I were among many foils used for this purpose, in the context of a so-called “party” for the Panthers in 1970 which was neither a party nor a “radical chic” event for the Black Panther Party, but rather a civil liberties meeting for which my wife had generously offered our apartment.”

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      As a matter of fact, Bernstein did it.

  • Dan P. says:

    I get the feeling that so far no one responding to this bit of news is clear on what the Committee on the Arts and Humanities is charged with doing – certainly not Steve P. (no relation to me).

    The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (CPAH) works to create educational programs in the arts and humanities for children throughout the country. In doing so, it works with (1) the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), (2) the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and (3) the Institute for Museum and Library Services.(all started in 1965 in the Johnson Administration.

    The NEA funds concert organizations and artists, among other things, the NEH funds research, sources preservation, digitization of documents, and supports public programs at universities, libraries, museums, and broadcast media, etc.

    It’s important to note that in its latest proposed budget to Congress, the Trump administration proposed defunding these agencies, making the President’s Committee moot. Of course, Trump can only SUGGEST what he’d like. Only Congress can plan a budget even though the president has to sign it to put it into effect. And that process hasn’t even started yet.

    Given the juvenile comment above by P, it’s important to underscore the important contribution to knowledge, history, and our collective culture that these organizations have been responsible for over the past 60 years. And to those for whom the only value of importance is one following a dollar sign, one should ad that they have also been responsible for an enormous contribution to local economies during that period as well.

    I’m not sure on what basis one would disparage what has been done by these groups to educate the young in the arts and humanities and why that person would think this is a bad thing – especially since that person comes to this website to see what’s happening in some of these disciplines. But in any case, there is no reason to pay any attention to him.

    • Steve P says:

      Whatever was being done isn’t working. Cultural relativism is in full swing – so we will have to agree to disagree as to the usefulness of these resigned artocrats on society. And careful what you wish for regarding history: seems like there is a pretty massive re-write going on which certainly bodes poorly for any artistic developments that are considered Western. But you bloviate well – ignore my snarkiness at your own peril.

      • Dan P. says:

        You know, if you actually could say something specific based on facts rather than cast aspersions and repeat right wing talk show buzzwords – like cultural relativism and, my favorite, bloviate – one might actually have an interesting discussion. I’d really enjoy it. But neither middle school name calling nor the threat of having to endure your “snarkiness” (oh God, not that!) really adds much to the conversation, does it.

        • Steve P says:

          You seem to have plenty of well-researched talking points about what the various arts organizations do; I would counter their best doing relates to the number of arts organizers employed. And I don’t hear bloviate used much at middle schools these days – I thought it was kind of highfallutin.
          Joking aside, it is nice that you believe in the government’s ability to deliver high-quality arts education to craving masses. I haven’t seen or heard the evidence myself.

          • Dan P. says:

            Having had a life as a performer and leader of a performing organization and also an academic both the NEA and NEH have figured in my life, so my information is more from personal experience than anything else.

            Both the groups were founded from initiatives that were supported by Lyndon Johnson when he was president and both democratic and republican presidents. First of all, except for funding by the federal government, they function independently of the government. The National Endowment for the Arts funds projects in all of the arts from high classical things to folk and traditional-oriented projects. The largest chunk of their money actually goes directly to partnering with local agencies (like in my state, the New York Council for the Arts) to which all arts groups may apply – these are museums, concert organizations big and small, dance groups, theater, and the like. Basically, the organization prepares a grant application and your project is judged by people in your field. There are all sorts of standards that applicants must uphold – viability of the organization, previous accomplishment, etc. Typically, a representative of one’s field goes to one or more presentations and provides a report. I actually did this at one time.)

            In my experience, most performing organizations (new and old music), chamber music groups, and other presenting organizations apply for grants. Of course, the NEA also supports big institutions as well. While funding from the NEA is only a small percentage of one’s budget, the money is often earmarked for a specific project or end result. They also used to be involve in direct composer commissions but I’m not sure they still do that. I haven’t been involved in that end. They do other things, but this, I think, is the bulk of their work. Of the two groups, NEA is the most directly public-facing organization.

            The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) supports research and original scholarship and is focused more directly on education in the traditional sense. Like the NEA, they also work through local granting agencies by funding them while letting the local agencies work directly with the grant applicants. They give grants for specific museum exhibits, universities for specific research or scholarly projects, public television for specific programs, and libraries to do exhibits or bolster certain collections.

            In both cases, they don’t directly choose or direct the final product, but rather fund local agencies who work directly with the grantees. There is oversight, but not direct participation, by Washington and that oversight isn’t provided by the government except for funding.

            Like any grant making organization not everyone may be thrilled by one or another project that is funded, but this is just the nature of things. No one agrees on everything. That’s probably for the best because it means the projects that are funded aren’t simply the product of one person’s whim or predilection.

            From my own participation, it funded concerts we gave that presented, among other things, concentrated on the connections between 20th century French and Japanese music, American music for different generations, presented recent music, great but lesser known works by major 19th and 20th century composers, and gave opportunities to some of the best established and young professional musicians to make their case among the NY public. To make sure that we reached a wide public, tickets at a major hall were priced very low with tickets for student and senior citizens priced even lower. We usually got good crowds who got to meet and talk with the composers and performance at a low key reception following the concert.. So, in short, this is what the NEA – New York Council for the Arts was able to help accomplish for 25 years.

        • Sue says:

          Or, to put it another way, “if you’d only argue for my beliefs we could have a good discussion”.

          • Dan P. says:

            These aren’t even beliefs just the expression of one’s unhappiness, which doesn’t give much to talk about. Talking specifically about ideas and facts just seems more worthwhile but it does take more thought. Everyone is entitled to their feelings, but in the end, they tend not to be interesting to anyone but the person and their loved ones.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            To give an example. Dan P. highlights as an achievement that he was able to present the connections between French and Japanese music, and provide low cost tickets to these kind of shows. But he doesn’t explain why this should be considered an achievement. Hence there is an argument about whether this really should be considered an achievement. He also seems to argue that the mere presentation of something by the arts community should itself be considered an achievement of the NEA. I think this ideological position is being challenged by some of the other people on this website.

          • Dan P. says:

            With respect to Saxon Broken below (there was no space for a response there) – I think perhaps you’re confused. You attribute to me something I didn’t say and then roundly criticize me for having said the thing I didn’t say. Where did you find the word achievement? All I said was that NEA funding through the state council gave a chance for a group of young musicians to give a series of concerts of music people might not otherwise hear – including music of living composers… What else is there to explain?

            The purpose of the NEA and the State Council is to support the arts through funding of various projects. Mine was one of many. Their support was very small but every little bit helps and we were grateful. Simple as that. I’m not sure what “ideological position” you’re talking about. In any case, how is it different than any other government support to industry, housing, road and highway repair, schools and school lunch programs, student aid for college students, supporting medical and other university research, healthcare for the poor, It’s all for the common good. Or don’t you believe that one of the roles of government in an advanced civilization should be the support of the common good?

      • Sue says:

        I’d have to say I support those comments. We lived in vile times.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    I remember when the damning complaint about the US President by the pathetic vultures here was that he mispronounced “Martha Argerich.” He must only listen to rap music and Beyonce!

    Well, y’all have got your new high-falutin’ non-black, all-orange President now. How’s that working out? How is that working out for the arts? Things are so much better now, right?

    • Mark says:

      As difficult as it might be to understand for you, the President has very little to do with the arts – they are largely privately supported in the US. The names of David Geffen and David Koch, ideological opposites, are inscribed on the walls of the Lincoln Center buildings. The arts (specifically, classical music) flourished in the US for decades before the NEA ever came info existence.

      • Steve P says:

        Obviously you don’t have the same experience as an Dan P. As an artocrat in NYC, he experienced largesse in the form of grants and happily shares the stories of successful government programs. Sounds lime living in a large city and getting tons of handouts to fund concerts for like-minded patrons is the way to go. Hadn’t seen so much grant money down South, though; maybe I just don’t know the right people.

        • Dan P. says:

          Excuse me for a second while I take a sip my Latte Macchiato with my fellow aristocrats and request a finger towel from the waiter. Seriously though, characterizing me as being a big-city aristocrat receiving “tons of handouts” besides being silly and untrue, doesn’t go very far to hide your resentment that a bunch of not very well off and underpaid young musicians want to get together to apply their talents to do something interesting for people interested in music including a lot of students. Your resentment seems to be based on the assumption that such support does not exist in the South, but a quick Google check shows that it does. A quick Google check shows similar funding organizations in Georgia, Alabama, North & South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and all had agencies similar to that of New York. But realistically, Divided among the 50 states, we’re actually talking about very little money.

          The thing you seem to be unaware of is that such grants tend to be small and designed to help contribute to basic expenses. They act as an incentive to other fund raising – just like many enormous government programs are designed to incentivize businesses. People come to commercial areas to go to concerts. They eat out at nearly restaurants, go shopping, pay for parking. These things generate local revenue just like tax incentives that businesses receive.

  • Translator Zero says:

    Charlottesville was a false flag using paid actors.

  • Sue says:

    Hey America! There’s a big, wide world out there apart from the US of A!!!

    • Bruce says:

      I would respectfully submit that Americans reading this blog already know that. As provincial as it may seem, we often feel we have to focus our attention mostly on the country we live in. Or perhaps I’m missing your point.

  • Larry says:

    It has been pointed out that the first letter in each of the letter’s paragraphs spell out the word R-E-S-I-S-T.

  • Absurdistan says:

    “These are the resignees:
    Paula Boggs, Chuck Close, Richard Cohen, Fred Goldring, Howard L. Gottlieb, Vicki Kennedy, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anne Luzzatto, Thom Mayne, Kalpen Modi, Eric Ortner,  Ken Solomon, Caroline Taylor, Jill Cooper Udall, Andrew Weinstein, John Lloyd Young”

    Oh goodness, call 911.

    How will Art, Culture, US, THE PLANET survive??

  • Anon says:

    Divide and conquer.
    The US population is ruled successfully.
    Instead of fighting for their common good and against their common enemies, they are divided (and apparently too blinded to see it) and going at each other relentlessly, while the ruling plutocracy is laughing all the way to the offshore banks. People like Steve P. are the sad testimony, how that country is lost.

    • NYMike says:

      People like Steve P. and Sue are devoid of the knowledge, appreciation and love for music and other arts. However, they do love to see their alt-right trolling appear incessantly on the screen. They are best ignored.

      • Dan P. says:


      • William Osborne says:

        The level of dialog has become so consistently low it is no longer worth participation. I doubt anything could be done about this.

        • Steve P says:

          Nope. But every silly political article which draws your overwhelming approval will certainly draw me. Can’t stand to let you losers enjoy your party when you are so clearly losing every battle. MAGA!

      • Steve P says:

        I love music and other arts. Go ahead, assume that because you are a raving lib you are superior in all areas of life. I perform, patronize, and savor art every bit as much as you and your ilk.

  • Dan P. says:

    Norman, can’t we invoke a civility rule here – like the removal of notices that consist simply of name calling and ad hominem attacks? These turn nearly every discussion (except for the ubiquitous retirement notices and obits) into a school yard brawl that rarely rises above variations on “so’s your old man.” These little epistles aren’t interesting and the contributors seem to be immune to engaging in thoughtful responses to those with whom they disagree. In short, they’re bringing down this site. I don’t care that someone has a different point of view, but when they respond to comments with name calling it’s clear they’re here only to stir up crap rather than to contribute to the discussion. . And we – and I mean I – shouldn’t respond to these kinds of provocations on the vain hope of having a serious conversation.

  • L Farrell says:

    The Trumpanzee had promised to eviserate their funding completely. Why were they still there?

    • Dan P. says:

      Trump can promise anything he wants, but these are suggestions only. Only Congress put the budget together. Still, I can understand those who stay so they can do whatever they can to mitigate Trumps more destructive initiatives while they still can.