Trump tries again to shut down arts funding

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On Monday, the Trump administration released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, in which it proposes shutting down the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, stating that the administration does not consider the activities of the agencies to be “core Federal responsibilities.”

This is the third year in a row that the administration has proposed eliminating the cultural agencies. It’s also the third year in a row that a bipartisan Congress has demonstrated its support for the agencies by increasing their budgets. The recently passed federal budget gave the agencies a $2 million increase for FY2019, bringing the funding of both to $155 million.

In addition to eliminating the NEA and NEH, the administration proposes:
Eliminating the Institute of Museum and Library Services;
Eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting;
Reducing funding for cultural exchanges at the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs by almost $400 million;
Eliminating several programs at the U.S. Department of Education such as the Arts in Education program, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
The Performing Arts Alliance recently served as a National Partner for Arts Advocacy Day, when more than 500 advocates visited Washington, D.C. and many of you sent e-mails urging Congress to fund the NEA at $167.5 million for FY2020.
Continue to raise your voice and tell lawmakers about the important role of the arts in your community.

PLEASE click here to make your voice heard!


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  • What kind of country and society is that, that wants to spend more than the next 10 countries on the planet combined on its war budget, but basically nothing on its culture?

    I would say that is a country without any aspiration, except money and global hegemony.

    • Whether the defense budget is too high is debatable. What is not debatable is that a government’s first obligation to its people is to provide for their safety and defense; not to subsidize the arts.

      • [[ government’s first obligation to its people is to provide for their safety and defense ]]

        You’re laughably naive, aren’t you, Barry?

        • I adore culture but I think Barry is right on the money. Rather than naive, I think he’s pragmatic – which means you don’t necessarily accept what happens but understand WHY it happens. Got it?

      • You know what’s funny?
        There is little attention to a country’s military size in history. But a country’s investment into the arts, that makes a country attractive in (historical) hindsight.
        After all, if you are mighty, but stupid and without higher aspirations, what’s the point of being mighty in the first place?

        • Ah, because somebody wants to blow up your country and you all need to live. Little Rocket Man; what are his ‘higher aspirations’. Perhaps you’re the “peace in our time” type. Yeah, that went well. Go back to reading “Desiderata”, if you please.

          • Who wants to blow up who? Please go back to reading Lucky Luke, or only look at the pictures, as usual.

    • Tamino, we live in a great country, where culture is traditionally supported by people, cultural patrons, not by Government! And America has a tremendous cultural elite, probably like no other country.
      FYI: America is a country of great orchestras, not only professional, but also school and college, as well as brilliant amateur orchestras. Not one European country can make such a claim!!
      NEA – is mostly a waste of taxpayers’ money. Trump is no big exponent of culture, needless to say, but his cuts for NEA are one of Trump’s best decisions so far. There are thousands of uneducated morons who know how to milk the government and use this money for NOTHING! These recipients are rarely great artists or institutions. Trump’s lack of personal cultural background does not negatively affect presidential decisions vis-a-vie culture! Great decision, Mr. Trump! Besides, The President MUST protect the country and its people FIRST. This is Trump’s constitutional OBLIGATION!

  • Oh dear. Slightly unserious but I too would withdraw funding for the CPB should they continue broadcasting dumb and inferior programming such as Il Volo-Pla Do. But, as I said, I am kind of joking.

      • What are you saying? When Little Rocket Man sends over one of his ICBMs you’re going to throw your violin bow at him?

        Yes, there appears to be a lot to ‘fume’ over – but a lot of soul-searching from the Left and the Democrats would be the first place to start, unless you think 50% of the US population (or thereabouts) are low-brow morons who don’t know what’s good for them – or whose opinions differ from the diktats of the moral crusaders of the Left. People are NOT idiots because they don’t go to the New York Philharmonic and they have needs and desires just as others do. I find it shocking that this demographic has been referred to as “deplorables” in “fly-over country”.

        How about matching culture with empathy and intelligence. They “seldom keep coming nowadays”.

        When the Left is off the leash and we see its crazies it’s pretty darn terrifying.

        • Where do you see the crazy liberals you are describing? I see them primarily in the imagination of far right authors, not in real life. And I live in a liberal area.

    • As you know, education and the arts in the U.S. are funded (by government) almost entirely at the state level, whereas the military is a federal matter.

      It would be helpful to show and compare for European readers the portion of unearned income derived by U.S. orchestras and opera companies at state level versus at federal level, i.e. via the NEA. Then the (hardly new) idea of streamlining the public funding system would be seen to make sense.

      The arts in the U.S. need much more public money — starting with education about Western art music and music lessons in every school — but that issue is getting confused as presented here.

      • In most European countries, the majority of public arts funding comes from the state and municipal levels of government. In Germany, for example, it’s about 90%. In the USA, the sum total of all state arts funding is about 3 times the the budget of the NEA. This is still an extraordinarily small sum.

        Here’s an interesting state by state comparison map:

        Culture is by nature inherently local, and that should be reflected in how it is funded. Decentralization would also help prevent it from becoming a political football.

        • Although 90 percent of the arts money in Germany is distributed by the provinces and cities, isn’t the Federal government the source of these funds? Do provinces and cities have taxing authority?

  • Trump will use the money to build his wall. He will bankrupt the country if necessary, but it’s a small price to pay to keep Mexico, the greatest threat the United States has ever faced, from invading.

    Of course, there will be nothing worth protecting by the time it’s finished, and in fact, Mexico will be grateful that there is a wall in place to keep Americans from trying to escape.

    • He won’t bankrupt the country with a wall – that’s nonsense. It’s not that expensive compared to the huge (too huge!) budget. Obama spent more on the border. There IS a crisis at the border. Having thousands of people illegally crossing the border does cause problems. I know of what I speak: I live in a border state and see first hand the problems that have been wrought on our schools, hospitals, and criminal activity. One of my favorite places to go camping now has a sign which warns people to stay out of the area because of the illegal drug runners. Local schools are overwhelmed with kids who don’t speak English, who have almost no academic skills yet are placed in high school classes that they are unqualified for. Teachers are quitting in droves in frustration. I am not a bigot, racist, or anything like it. My wife is Latina and best friend Latino. I perform in Mexico from time to time.

      The claim that there won’t be anything worth protecting is just stupid. The US still boasts some of the greatest orchestras in the world. The culture in the US may not be what someone from Europe expects or wants but that’s ok – it’s different. Isn’t that ok? We play football, they play rugby. We play baseball, they play cricket. We like rodeos – they don’t. If you think all of our music is crap, just look at the $hit that came from England – the punk rock.

      We are nearly $23 TRILLION in debt. Cutting the CPB may not make a dent, but it’s a start.

      Yes the US spends a lot on military. I would hope that someone living in Europe would look at their history over the last 100 years and be very grateful that the US has had a strong military.

  • None of this comes as a surprise. A society that lacks any basic education and any appreciation of the arts and respect for artists and artistic expression is a society that is far easier to manipulate, to send into endless senseless wars, sell hated to and a society desensitized towards feelings and emotions. That is ultimately the objective here and when interacting and meeting the average U.S. citizen living in the U.S. one can only conclude that this strategy has been successful. Trump was elected and is supported by these people. They represent around 50% of the population, but by removing any remaining federal arts support and education they may be able to get the figure of support up to 60%, thereby assuring their hold on power. Sad story. Sad country.

  • This is fast food for his base. It won’t happen. The house, which controls spending, is controlled by the Democrats. In any event, he did the same thing with his first budget and even the Republicans restored funding. So no worries. Not going to happen

    • They said the very same thing about his running for President too. The wise move to expect the worse.

  • He desperately needs the funds from the arts budget to pay for his July 4th military parade to honor all the chief executives who wanted desperately to serve in the armed forces but were prevented from doing so due to terminal cases of bone spurs and bunions.

  • $155 million is a trifle in the context of a federal budget of some $4 trillion, but there is a legitimate discussion to be had whether such funding (as with many other things) should come from the Federal government, or state and local levels (as well as private philanthropy). Far too much money and power has been arrogated to the federal government in Washington as it pertains to a whole host of issues, not just the arts. And far too often grants by the NEA, NEH, etc. fund pet projects of generally leftist ideologues rather than genuinely valuable and lasting art of any worth to society.

    • Let’s wait till the left unfold it’s dumb 97Trillion Green sh*t Deal. They will certainly include billions of the communist propaganda, which they will call “kultscha”!!

  • That $155 million is about 21 minutes out of a year of federal expenditure ($3.8 Trillion).

    That is small in relation to all the other taxpayer-funded items but $155 million is also small in relation to total arts funding in the US.

    It is estimated that private foundation donations to the arts in the US total about $60 billion annually.

    It might be a minor matter if the NEA addition to that disappeared. It certainly would not be the end of the arts in the US.

    It might be easier to make a case for the NEA if we knew that it did something that the far more numerous private donations do not do.

    If it is merely augmenting arts budgets by 0.25% then maybe it is not an important use of federal money.

  • One has to understand – especially if one doesn’t live in the US – is that the president’s budget is nothing more than a wish list to considered and ignored at the pleasure of the Congress. Only Congress (as mandated by the constitution) has the authority to allocate funds, and it does so as it wishes. Republican presidents have tried to get rid of arts funding for ages and Congress has ignored it. Of course, the president can sign or refuse to sign it as Trump has done in the past (but this means holding up funding for everything – it’s an all-or-nothing deal), but a presidential budget has no authority. So there is really no reason to get exercised about this. The House of Representatives would not at this time sign off on such a set of priorities.

  • Anyone is welcome to look this up for themselves. I didn’t think posting a link to an article on here would be appropriate. Just within the past few years, the German military was forced to use brooms in place of guns during military exercises because guns are in such short supply. They’ve also been short of military ships to pick up German citizens stranded in places where there are natural or man-made disasters. I understand they supplement their orchestras at a much greater rate than the U.S. Perhaps they can send those musicians to pick up stranded citizens. Maybe German musicians should offer their violins and cellos as replacements for the brooms the next time military drills are due. It’s all a question of priorities. Germany and other European countries have been free to prioritize as they do for years because of the way the U.S. has chosen to prioritize. But if you’d rather bash us than thank us, have at it.

    • Sigh…American believe Europeans are ungrateful since they believe their military is the only thing protecting Europe from being invaded. Europeans don’t believe this. (Britain is in the middle.)

  • I think you non-Americans don’t understand: there is no single “American” culture. That is by design. As much as I love art music, that music does not generate capital. And if folks don’t want to hear the music, they should not be made to fiscally support it.

  • That one thing that has always irked me about the NEA is that behemoth organizations are able to scoop up $100k grants which are a fraction of their total operating budget, while small upstarts are luck to get $10k grants. The Met Opera doesn’t need a $90k grant from the NEA; that money would be transformational for a small museum with a $200k budget that’s trying to establish itself.

  • Luckily, he’ll soon be gone. But he’s typical of US leaders who do not want to spend much on the arts, or people in general. Bombs and bullets do so much more for humanity!

    I’d like to see the question of increased federal funding put to all democratic contenders. I don’t believe any of them have addressed it.

    Nor was Obama much better (to his credit, he was somewhat better, and there was actually classical music played in the White House). He actually wanted to cut social security and Medicaid and didn’t really do that much for the arts either. Here’s a good read on how the arts community embraced Obama but he did not embrace it:

    Of course, pretty much anybody is better than Trump.

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