CMU School of Drama

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Why small and rural arts groups may hurt the most under Trump's plan to gut the NEA

PBS NewsHour: President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, which was released Thursday, eliminates funding for 19 agencies, including for cultural groups like the National Endowment for the Arts. Congress has final approval of the president’s request.

The NEA supports arts groups across the country, including major institutions in big cities, like Carnegie Hall or the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. But it would also mean the end of grants for dance, opera, writing, film, theater and other arts organizations in every state in the country — many of them smaller groups in rural communities.


Katherine Sharpless said...

Hearing about the proposed NEA budget cuts has been disturbing, to say the least, and reading these examples of smaller arts groups in rural areas has hurt even more. So many of these places wouldn't exist without grants, and despite apparent beliefs, they contribute to the community and economy in necessary ways- creating jobs, educating underprivileged students, contributing to cultural identity. I can think of a few examples where small arts groups have been incredibly influential from my own life as well. From the summer art classes I took as a kid so my parents could work during the day, to the singing group my grandparents go to to leave the house and visit friends, to the "coal keeps the lights on" town I visited in Kentucky which was rallying around their neighbor on America's got talent. Art has been a necessary element of humanity for thousands of years, every article about this news hurts, and I hope eagerly that the cuts don't go through.

Helena Hewitt said...

Obviously, it makes sense that small and rural programs would suffer the most when federal funding is cut from the arts. I doubt institutions like The Metropolitan Museum of Arts, while they might struggle, will completely disappear if all federal arts funding is pulled. The same cannot be said for small arts programs that bring arts to communities that otherwise wouldn’t have them. I just did a research project and presentation on The Federal Theatre Project of the Great Depression and one of the major effects of this project was this project was that it brought artists and culture out of a very small number of large urban centers, essentially just New York and Hollywood, and exposed many communities to theatre that had never experienced it before. It seems that this budget may reverse that process and over the next years. If the current administration wants these arts programs to survive based solely on “voluntary contributions” artists in big urban centers may have to turn their attention to smaller rural programs as well as their own local arts programs to keep the arts alive across all of the United States.