The Trump administration’s intention to cut the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in its federal budget plan has been made public. The NEA was created in 1965 as a filigree on the Great Society. In 1995, Republicans won control of the House of Representatives and said the NEA was a frill the federal government should be shorn of. Twenty-two years later, it has survived, having mastered adaptive evolution, government-style: It defines art democratically and circularly. Trump is the first president to make this proposal, according to a report by The New York Times.
“The NEA continues to operate as usual and will do so until a new budget is enacted by Congress”
The NEA released the following statement; “Today we learned that the President’s FY 2018 budget blueprint proposes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every Congressional District in the nation.
We understand that the President’s budget request is the first step in a very long budget process; as part of that process, we are working with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prepare information they have requested. At this time, the NEA continues to operate as usual and will do so until a new budget is enacted by Congress.
We expect this news to be an active topic of discussion among individuals and organisations that advocate for the arts. As a federal government agency, the NEA cannot engage in advocacy, either directly or indirectly. We will, however, continue our practice of educating about the NEA’s vital role in serving our nation’s communities.”
Jane Chu, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, has informed her staff of the president’s decision to eliminate both programs. A White House staffer was present during the staff meeting, which was held Wednesday afternoon.
The Washington Post Said; “Although the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2016 cost of $148 million was less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of the federal budget, attempting to abolish the NEA is a fight worth having, never mind the certain futility of the fight.”
Getting rid of both agencies would only save $300 million out of the $1.1 trillion overall annual discretionary spending small amounts that would still have a serious impact on cultural production, and the artists, musicians, writers, and scholars who rely on it.
Word spread about the cuts back in January, and in February. Senator Kristen Gillibrand teamed up with 24 U.S. senators to write a letter to the President encouraging him to continue funding the NEA and NEH, calling them the “drivers of innovation and economic prosperity.”
Trump has also proposed to eradicate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a major source of funding for PBS and National Public Radio stations, as well as the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
According to the Times, the NEA and NEH will operate business as usual until Trump’s budget goes through Congress, which has final say. However, don’t expect Republican congressman to save these programs; they’ve long advocated for their elimination.