Funding to the arts may be in danger across America

by Wade Massey March 18, 2017, 0:56
Funding to the arts may be in danger across America

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities have always been ripe targets for conservatives looking to trim fat from the federal budget, but President Donald Trump's newly released blueprint proposes eliminating them entirely-and arts and humanities advocates are already gearing up for a fight. The danger is, if congress approves Trump's budget plan and abolishes the National Endowment for the Arts, the money would not be available for the grants that are vital to the Art Center's operation, Gilbert said.

Though the funding for those two organizations represent a small part of the federal budget, the endowments provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in support to cultural and arts programs locally through federal and state sources.

The cuts proposed by Trump - and Republicans going as far back as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan - could potentially cut off a lifeline of funding to programs in the Merrimack Valley that receive grant money through the state organizations that receive partnership grants from the federal government to reallocate locally.

The spending outline is what White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney calls a "hard-power budget", with spending increases for defense and homeland security at the expense of many other programs in the discretionary part of the budget. They were created in 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation declaring that any "advanced civilization" must fully value the arts, the humanities, and cultural activity.

About 100,000 students a day attend Beyond the Bell programs, said Alvaro Cortes, the executive director of the program.

"Ninety percent of our funding comes from the NEH".

Rapid City Arts Council Executive Director Pepper Massey says, "Economic development".

"We're in the creative economy as we speak", he said. With arts agencies in 56 states and jurisdictions, the assembly has found that collectively 25 percent of the state grant allocations go to rural communities, where private funding is not as prevalent, she says.

"Right now, we're seeing a compounding of issues", he said, referring to the threat of cuts to funding streams for both after-school programs funding and arts. "For us to have that kind of stamp of approval has been wonderful in the growth of this company". Grants from the NEA were regarded by many conservatives as a form of welfare for liberal elites.

"New York City is the cultural capital of the world, but with NEA funding on the chopping block, hundreds of cultural organizations - and the children they serve - could suffer", Stringer said. More than $900,000 of that went directly to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, through a partnership grant, according to Greg Liakos, communications director for the council.

Hollywood stars have also spoken out against the proposed cuts, with actor Mark Ruffalo denouncing it as "ripped from [Steve] Bannon's nationalistic playbook" and Julie Andrews calling it "mind-boggling" in an open letter published on CNN. "Federal funding is an essential ingredient to making this possible".

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