Congress rejects arts cut as Trump flack is named NEA chief

Congress rejects arts cut as Trump flack is named NEA chief


norman lebrecht

July 19, 2018

The House of Representatives yesterday massively voted down a proposal to cut funds for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) by 15%.

The vote was 297-114.

The White House meanwhile named a Florida political fixer, Mary Anne Carter, as acting chair of the NEA.

Carter (pic) served on Trump’s inauguration committee and raised funds for him in Florida.

She replaces Jane Chu who got out after successfully heading off the first Trump onslaught on arts funding.



  • william osborne says:

    The NEA budget is about 1.2% the size of total public arts funding in Germany and France, each which spend about $12 billion annually, and each which have about quarter the population of the USA. Sadly, the decimating results of these forms of social neglect are everywhere apparent in American society.

  • Cubs Fan says:

    Social neglect? The US govt has annual deficits closing in on one trillion dollars. We have many other needs that are more important than funding orchestras and other arts organizations. This should not be a federal issue at all. It is a state and local one. The orchestra I play with is in a city that really supports the arts and provides us with about 40% of our budget. We get some from the state, too. Keep it local and keep the nearly bankrupt feds out!

    • Antonia says:

      Your state council on the arts receives and apportions to your orchestra monies from a block grant from the NEA. It may first go through your county’s local arts council, which decides how best to spend it. I have written successful arts grant applications and know that this is the normal channel of distribution.

    • william osborne says:

      More blustering nonsense. All state arts agencies taken toegether provide $368 million per year for the arts. The total taken together withthe NEA funding comes to $523 million. That is only 4.3% of the amount provided by the state and federal governments in France and Germany even though they have about one quarter the population. Info about US state level funding here:

      I too think funding should be admistered locally, but the issue is that the funding is dismally low on both the local and federal levels.

  • Blake says:

    It’s easy to say that it’s automatically better that German and French arts organizations receive so much funding from their governments, but if you look at what has happened recently in Turkey with the president shutting down all opera houses and theaters, I think there’s something to be said for our arts organizations being insulated from political football. I’m all for a strong NEA that can give our organizations the support they need, but thankfully the funding for American arts is diversified so that our institutional survival isn’t so closely tied to the whims of one particular politician or group of politicians.

    • The View from America says:

      It isn’t just in Turkey where that’s happening, either.

      Some of the most “western of western” nations in Europe are cutting arts funding, too … reported right here by SD.

    • william osborne says:

      No, the EU countries are not cutting arts funding. That trope is a common lie promoted by rightwingerws in the USA. The funding numbers have remained consistent, and in numerous countries even risen.

      And comparing the EU to Turkey is ridiculous. Though we might note that Istanbul has more opera performances per year that Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Cincinnati, to name a few American cities. There are many others.

      • The View from America says:

        Ulster Orchestra faces more cuts

        July 13, 2016 by norman lebrecht


        The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has been trimmed by half a million pounds on its £10.95 million budget.

        That reduction will impact directly on its largest single dependent, the Ulster Orchestra, which relies on £1.8m a year from ACNI.

        Bad times ahead for the orchestra, and no EU aid possible.

      • The View from America says:

        France faces 50 million Euros in arts cuts

        July 11, 2017 by norman lebrecht


        The trim was announced today by Gérald Darmanin, President Macron’s budget minister.

        Macron is looking for 4.5 billion Euros in public funding cuts in order to stay within EU budget limits.

      • The View from America says:

        Birmingham faces 25% arts cuts

        December 10, 2015 by norman lebrecht


        The ruling Labour council of Britain’s second city has announced swingeing cuts to the performing arts, including the world-renowned City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Graham Vick’s Birmingham Opera.

        The timing could not be worse for the CBSO, which is on the point of choosing a new music director.

      • The View from America says:

        Paris faces deep orchestra cuts

        November 14, 2017 by norman lebrecht


        A new Government policy document proposes a meter between the Orchestre de Paris and the hall it plays in, the Philharmonie de Paris, saving dozens of jobs.

        Also on the cars is a ‘reconfiguration’ of the national radio orchestras (and we all know what that means).

      • The View from America says:

        Cuts deep: Scots to shut music school

        October 27, 2017 by norman lebrecht

        1 comment.

        City of Edinburgh Music School, reportedly the only free music school of its kind in Europe, is to be shut in a new round of council cuts.

        Parents are up in arms. The council says it will spread music teaching peripatetically across the city.

      • The View from America says:

        Bath abolishes arts funding

        February 21, 2017 by norman lebrecht


        The ancient Roman town of Bath, which depends on heritage tourism, has said it will scrap all funding for the arts in order to save £433,000 by 2020.

        That will probably spell the end of the Bath Festival.

        It’s quite alarming.

      • The View from America says:

        Classical funding is blamed for the death of small venues

        July 19, 2017 by norman lebrecht


        The Guardian is getting quite heated over the Arts Council’s withdrawal of funding from the Music Venue Trust, which keeps places going for small and esoteric gigs.

        Under the headline ‘Small music venues are dying – blame the obsession with classical music‘, today’s rant reads:

        The trust argues that while Arts Council England does much to support new music, with money for the internet radio station NTS, live-streaming Boiler Room and contemporary music curators Capsule to name but three, 85% of its music funding has been allotted to opera and classical music, according to the charity, with £96m given to the Royal Opera House alone. With the next round of funding applications in 2022, it’s hard not to foresee that many more small music venues might close in the next four years.

      • The View from America says:

        Another early music group loses French subsidy

        December 7, 2014 by norman lebrecht


        First, William Christie and Les Arts Florissants were stripped of 333,900 Euros by the city of Caen in September.

        Now, Mark Minkowski and the Musiciens de Louvre are losing 438,000 from Grenoble.

        Is France falling out of love with period instruments?

      • The View from America says:

        Yannick’s orchestra suffers subsidy cut

        May 20, 2016 by norman lebrecht


        The Dutch love tall poppies and always know how to reward success.

        They’ve just taken 10 percent off state funding for the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the country’s most exciting orchestra.

        Subsidy over the next four years is down from 4.4 million Euros to 3.9m.

        The advice from the Cultural Council still requires ministerial approval.

      • The View from America says:

        Breaking: Italian orchestras face subsidy loss

        August 7, 2015 by norman lebrecht

        1 comment.

        The Performing Arts Minstry has been telling orchs around the country that they will lose subsidy in a sweep of government cuts. Details are still sketchy. First reports here and here (in Italian).

        We will update later.

      • The View from America says:

        Serge Dorny’s expenses cost Lyon 10% of its subsidy

        October 31, 2017 by norman lebrecht


        The Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region has slashed its subsidy to the Opéra de Lyon by 10 percent in response to the grotesque expenses claims of its director, Serge Dorny.

        The Belgian administrator claimed more than 100,000 Euros to support his first-class lifestyle.

        The region has now cut 300,000 Euros from his subsidy.

        Dorny has been in charge at Lyon since 2003.

      • william osborne says:

        Lots of smoke and no fire – if not half-truth hogwash. Almost all the examples are for single cultural institutions, or smallish general cuts for orchestras. They prove nothing about the general levels of arts funding. As if reducing funding for an orchestra or an early music group represents overall national trends in arts funding. And most of the examples are from the English-speaking world, which says little about arts funding in continental Europe. This is the sort of misleading, propaganda the right uses to discredit the EU’s public arts funding systems, and it is nonsense.

        Take note, for example, of the article about a 50 million Euro cut mentioned in France. That proposed cut, which I don’t think was even carried through, was less than one half of one percent of total public arts funding in France. And note that Italy’s cuts to orchestras do not represent overall funding trends. Italy spends about two billion a year maintaining its massive cultrual patrimony, including about 12 or 13 full time opera houses. Watch out for the liars and propagandists.

        I’m pressed for time at the moment, but I will try to find a compendium of EU arts funding. I have one at hand that shows that funding has held steady and even increased in several countries, but it only goes up to 2011. The trends have not changed since then, because most economies have improved since the 2008 crash. These compendiums take time to produce so its difficult to find more recent data, but I will see if I can find something. In the meantime, don’t swallow the misleading hogwash of rightwingers. EU arts funding has NOT shown a downward trend.

  • Michael says:

    The NEA has been a disaster for the art world. Instead of letting market forces decide what sort of art should be made, artists now must appeal to some arbitrary, quasi-government council rather than the people. Many artists now make most of their money from government doles and charitable contributions. So during a period when NEA funding has gone up, so too has theater attendance gone down. The art world should be reacting to lower attendance by making art that appeals to more people. Instead they’re beholden to a small council of “elites” who decide who gets to suck at their teat.

    • Fred says:

      I agree. Why can’t we just watch Jersey Shore and Game of Thrones on television–you know, have the arts that the people want?

      And why do I have to keep walking by all those stupid public sculptures? All they do is block my route and stub my toes.

      I’m so sick of orchestras, ballet companies, and live theater…don’t even get me started on those time wasters. They’re good for nothing but showing off by elitist bastards.

      • Cubs Fan says:

        This conversation could go on endlessly and never resolve anything. Where do you draw the line? Who says some art and organizations are more worthy of public funding than others? So my city antes up some significant money for the symphony. Then the youth ballet comes with their hands out. Then the Cowboy Poetry group with the Gay Rodeo right behind. Then comes the Latino community wanting funding for a mariachi program and then the Pacific Islanders organization wants money for their projects. Where does it end? Do you spread the money out so much that it doesn’t do any group any good? Do you raise taxes (bad idea) to redistribute more? How to justify giving money to the symphony that mostly plays music by dead, white European males, and give nothing to the local group that re-enacts Civil War era music performances? Do I think having a symphony is worthwhile? Yes. My neighbor doesn’t. He’s content to watch Game of Thrones and My 600 Pound Life – both of which pay their own way. What we need are more Carnegies, Sarnoffs, and other philanthropists to make it happen. But today’s uber-rich for the most part aren’t interested.

        Gotta leave. Time to listen to the Prom 7 on Radio 3 – courtesy of the UK taxpayers!

        • Fred says:

          Subsidization for the arts for me, not for thee. Maybe your city should just stop subsidizing your job in favor of more worthy goals, like stopping gang violence, and you can go out and turn a screwdriver to earn a living to pursue your music hobby like the rest of us not fortunate enough to have a tenured job have to.

          • Cubs Fan says:

            Fred: What job? The funding the orchestra gets doesn’t pay salaries – this is an all-volunteer orchestra composed of amateurs – some highly trained, some not. The funding we get allows to rent the city owned concert hall five times a year, pay the rent at a city owned building for rehearsing, rent/buy music, pay for library and equipment storage, and print programs. That’s it. The city council looks on the orchestra as a part of their parks & recreation program. They provide numerous parks with sports facilities, swimming pools, libraries and even a rodeo grounds. So this is just another quality of life issue for them – provide something for everyone. For many of our players it’s a great social outlet. Part of our charter demands we give concerts for free, too. We’re not the LSO, but we provide nice music to people who otherwise couldn’t afford the expensive tickets at the professional orchestra in the area.

            My snarky quip regarding Radio 3 could seem hypocritical, but it doesn’t bother me. I’ve subscribed to BBC Music and Gramophone for decades. I buy most of my cds through Presto, my scores from a London shop. Last time I was in London I dropped 3000 quid on hotels, taxis, Oyster cards, meals and concert tickets. So in some small way I support the UK economy and some of it makes its way to the Beeb.

      • Michael says:

        The goal of bringing fine art to the masses may be noble but the NEA doesn’t do that. The NEA funds works generally enjoyed by wealthier people; thus, NEA programs are basically a wealth transfer from the poor to the rich.

      • The View from America says:


  • YoYo Mama says:

    There was NO state funding until the NEA was established and set an example, as I recall. The NEA led the establishment of the entire structure of regional and local arts boards and associations. Federal policy is supposed to lead the way from a national perspective, and state policy is more localized. It is sick how people want to dispense with the wisdom that comes from overview for selfish political purposes.
    The NEA had the solo artist touring recital program that made Yo-Yo Ma famous, before it was destroyed because of the idiot performance artists that ruined the whole thing. Again, it set the example followed by the major foundations and Affiliate Artists, remember them? All through the 70s and part of the 80s, the arts grew, audiences grew, and the NEA was leading the way. Not only do we need it funded more than ever, we need that solo artist program restored, regardless of what happens with performance “artists.” Classical music should not be suffering because of them. They continued to get rich on their notoriety, while the classical would-be recitalists starved. Does anyone give solo recitals anymore? It is the beating heart of classical music, and already a lost art in less than a lifetime? For shame.

  • Franklin S. says:

    I’m conflicted about government support of the arts even though I’m deeply pro art. I’m for them assisting organizations that have a well documented history of service to the community, but critical of NEA’s tendency to support post modernist (progressive Marxist) ideas. To me, the amount of funds the NEA receives is not the main issue; it’s how they choose to use the funds.