WFYI, Arts Council bristle at Trump budget plan that slashes funding

20 Mars, 2017, 20:38 | Auteur: Gregory Millet
  • Will the arts ever have a shorter working week

If these proposed cuts go into effect, funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting-which funds such programs as PBS and NPR-would be cut to zero, with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities being eliminated entirely.

Shannon Smith is the Executive Director of the Wyoming Humanities Council, a non-profit and the state's affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, or the NEH.

Dianne Harris, the dean of the University of Utah's College of Humanities and a member of the National Humanities Alliance board of directors, concurred that nixing the NEH would be "devastating for our country".

The N.C. Arts Council is not an advocacy organization, but the agency has been getting inquiries and answering questions about the NEA, said Wayne Martin, executive director. They warned that rural and poor communities would be hit hardest because those areas have fewer sources of private funding to fill the endowments' void.

In February, Seven Days spoke with the heads of various local arts groups to gauge reaction to then-rumored federal budget cuts to the arts and public broadcasting.

The NEA isn't the only agency facing significant or full reductions in funding. "If these agencies are done away with, bringing them back is going to be next to impossible". Between now and then representatives in Washington - and maybe even President Trump - will likely be on the receiving end of a lot of letters, calls, emails - and tweets - from artists and organizations in MA calling for the NEA's survival.

Lawrence said most NEA grants range from $5,000 to $50,000, including a grant to the council in 2015 to fund the initial arts journalism fellowship program at IndyStar.

"When I look at that, I think, Well, how lovely and how aspirational for what the arts, humanities and public broadcast media do in society", Killacky says.

And advocates argue the small amount of funding that the endowment provides really does go a long way. The potential eliminations could hurt many arts organizations across the state.

"It is easier to raise money from private corporations, from individuals, and from foundations if one can say that this project has been vetted by the NEH's rigorous peer review process", he said.

"One thing that's very critical about NEA support is that it sparks investment from other donors", Davis told TPM. About $1 million of that is being distributed by the Massachusetts Cultural Council to fund more than 700 cultural organizations and councils statewide.

Other area programs that received funding from the NEA past year include the Missoula Children's Theatre, which won a $30,000 grant to tour a play in underserved communities and USA military bases. Reedsburg-based Wormfarm, which created Sauk County's annual Farm/Art D Tour and Fermentation Fest, has received $210,000 from the NEA since 2013 to launch and maintain its multiday celebration of rural culture.

They said the NEH "has funded groundbreaking scholarly research, preserved essential cultural and educational resources, cataloged more than 63 million pages of our nation's historic newspapers and helped millions of young people grapple with the lessons of history". The project offers free courses to veterans to work on reading skills, learn time management and prepare for the transition to academic life. That is in addition to almost $950,000 that goes to the PCA's "state-partnership" funding program, which is 10 percent of the PCA annual budget, explained deputy director of communications Heather Doughty.

This year, the NEA is making $3.5 million in grants in MA. Mr. Buchanan - who once described the arts agency as "the upholstered playpen of the arts and crafts auxiliary of the Eastern liberal establishment" - said that he gave President Trump credit for trying to eliminate it, but that its demise was far from assured.

CT cultural leaders reacted with dismay on Thursday to the proposed elimination of federal arts funding to thousands of arts and humanities projects nationwide each year, both small community organizations and major museums and performing-arts entities.

But many in the cultural world were confident about fighting to retain funding through Congress, which controls appropriations and where Trump's proposals have been met with scepticism.

The NEA's indemnity program, for example, provides insurance to ship valuable artworks from Europe with assurance that the federal government could cover the costs if, say, a Picasso painting was irreparably damaged along the way.

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

"Small stations like WQPT are especially vulnerable to this", she said.

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