WHEN IN DOUBT, CUT THE ARTS

The NEA budget represents .012 % of federal spending–too small a slice to picture in the above pie chart


Cutting funding to the arts has been the deficit-slashing war cry yowled by choruses of so-called fiscal conservatives since the dawn of the Reagan Era.  These same right-wing penny-pinchers also favor dumping hundreds of billions (with a “b”) of our money into law enforcement, border walls, prisons, military might and homeland security, while cutting taxes for the wealthy and cutting assistance to the poor.

News Flash: This same old, same old, soulless, short-sighted approach will never fix government dysfunction in the U.S.  Cutting funding to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)–a whopping 148 million (with an “m,”) will do very little to reduce the bloated U.S  budget deficit.   Whereas arts programs funded by the NEA–“artist communities, arts education, dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, local arts agencies, media arts, museums, music, musical theater, opera” (1)  and a host of other cultural programs provide crucial support for our developing culture and  much-needed creative outlets for all citizens, including the at-risk populations.

Kate Shindle, President of Actors’s Equity Association (AEA) said it best:

“The arts are not a frill, a luxury, or some kind of extended vanity project. The arts are a part of who we are as a nation, and the arts put our nation to work.” (2)

Shindle also went on to explain the economics of communities that support the arts, saying:

“Millions of people have jobs based on spinoff effects in hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and other business that benefit from spending on the arts. And live theatre is a tremendous resource for local community development. Theaters bring audiences, audiences spend money, and a lively arts scene brings people together and makes our communities safer, more prosperous, and more enjoyable. This is not a theory; this is not spin; this is fact.” (2)

Through the outreach of local theater companies, my own life trajectory was forever altered from borderline juvenile delinquent to constructive citizen.  How can you put a price tag on that?

While cutting the minuscule NEA budget, robbing all Americans and their children of cultural programs, those same Americans are forking out $405,000 a day so that Melania and Barron Trump can live spearate lives in New York City. (3)  Multiply the daily cost times 60 days, so far, for a grand total of  24.3 million, just for one woman and one child to enjoy the luxury of NYC.  Double that amount to cover costs until the end of Barron’s school year–48.6 million–and in just four months Melania and Barron’s  separate residency has used up one-third of the NEA budget.

One child, one woman, one-third of the NEA budget.  

If separate residences are maintained throughout the year, cost will exceed funding amounts allocated to the NEA, which provides access to culture for millions of men, women, and children all over the country.

Sorry (more than he will ever know) to Barron Trump, that your dad got elected president, but you and your mother need to move into the White House immediately, so that the rest of the kids in this country can have a few music and arts lessons. If Trump wants to cut unnecessary spending, he can start by telling his wife and son stop leaching off the American taxpayers and move immediately to Washington, D.C.

Side Bar:  

Yesterday, I hung my head in shame as I watched Trump’s press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, a country smaller than the state of Montana with an annual cultural budget of 1.63 billion (with a “b”) USD. (4)  The rude, graceless behavior of POTUS toward one of our strongest allies, his sexist, petulant refusal to shake her hand, his careless mention of  our CIA  “wire tapping” Merkel’s phone calls made me deeply ashamed to be a citizen of my own country.

Despite the merciless attacks Trump perpetratesd against Barrack Obama during Obama’s time as president–the Birther Movement, branding Obama a Muslim, constantly running down every aspect of Obama’s policies and accomplishments –Obama still managed a saint-like grace when welcoming Trump to the White House during the recent inauguration.   Trump ‘s behavior to Merkel during  Friday’s press conference was just the opposite: graceless and crude.  Rather than slinging baseless accusations at Obama for “wire tapping” Trump Tower perhaps Trump should study the former president’s graciousness and use it as a model for his own behavior in future.

“The Trump/ Merkel press conference represents one of the most embarrassing moment in my life as an American–right up there with George Bush’s wars, Reagan’s funding of the Contras, and our nation’s long list of racist, sexist imperialist policies.” —M. Daniels

SOURCES:

  1. Wikipedia; National Endowment for the Arts; https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Endowment_for_the_Arts
  2. McPhee, Ryan;  ActorsEquity President Kate Shindle Speaks Out Against Proposed NEA Cuts:  http://www.playbill.com/article/actors-equity-president-kate-shindle-speaks-out-against-proposed-nea-cuts
  3. Kaitlin; Why Would Melania and Barron Trump Living in New York Cost More? It Boils Down to Security: https://www.romper.com/p/why-would-melania-barron-trump-living-in-new-york-cost-more-it-boils-down-to-security-24082
  4. Gummow, Jody; Culturally Impoverished: US NEA Spends 1/40th of What Germany Doles Out for Arts Per Capital
    http://www.alternet.org/culture/culturally-impoverished-us-nea-spends-140th-what-germany-doles-out-arts-capita
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