What’s Going On with the National Endowment for the Arts and What It Means.

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Lets talk about the National Endowment for the Arts and everything thats been going on with it for the past few weeks.Since Donald Trump has taken office on January 20, 2017, the world has been a bit of a mess. There are reports of Fake News, Alternative Facts, and a whole bunch of Executive Orders. I won’t get into that in this, it doesn’t relate to the Arts right now and until it does, I’ll keep my mouth closed. However, something that has been tossed around recently is the possibility of Trump defunding the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Now, this can all seem a little confusing so the point of this post is to break down exactly what this means.

The Facts:

  • Donald Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs
  • Privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (according to the Hill)
  • Eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities (according to the Hill)
  • All of this is in order to reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years
  • Cultural programs make up 0.02% of Federal Funding (according to the Washington Post)

How an Endowment Works

Because I have twice interned in Development, which is the fundraising side of nonprofit organizations, I know a thing or two about endowments and how exactly nonprofits are funded. I am not an expert by any means, but I believe that I know enough to say something.

Essentially an endowment is a sum of money that sits in a bank that the organization cannot touch (unless circumstances are dire, in which case its seen as a bad thing in the org’s books). While they can’t touch the money itself, while it is in the account, it acquires interest which the organization can touch. Over the years the endowment can be added to which will then allow more money to be made off of it. A lot of nonprofit organizations rely on their endowment and the money they are granted by the National Endowment for the Arts. So, the NEA is pretty dang important.

The National Endowment for the Arts

A little information about the NEA

  • Established by Congress in 1965
  • Independent federal agency
  • Government funding—$148million of the $3.9trillion (Washington post)

“Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more about NEA.”

What Does This Mean?

Trump wants to completely eliminate programs that don’t even equal 4/100000 of a percent each year. Now, I’m not an economist or much of a math person, but I know how to do basic multiplication and division. If you multiply $148 million by the 10 years in which Trump wants to reduce spending, you get $1.48 billion. Divide that by the $10.5 trillion he wants to reduce federal spending by and you get 0.0001409, which is 0.01409%, not even two-hundredths of a percent.

Again, I am not an economist, but these numbers seem to do nothing but hurt the NEA and the organizations that they fund, the communities they help throughout the country.

This is really no surprise, though, is it? The arts have always been the first thing to go when discussing budget cuts because our education system’s ideal is for students attending public schools to be more educated in STEM areas in order to keep up with technology and whatnot globally. Completely understandable, I get it. But public high schools have already eliminated so much of their arts programs in the past 10 years which keeps the students in lower income communities from being exposed to the arts in a hands-on setting. Yes, student matinees put on by local theatre communities but not all schools are able to attend, much less those that have already cut their arts programs. By cutting those programs it makes it nearly impossible for students to have a well rounded education. It further hurts children who are just not cut out for STEM subjects by telling them subconsciously that there is nothing out there for them because they do not provide it in school. This is why we need people who understand the public school system to be the Secretary of Education, not Betsy DeVos who has never attended or been employed at a public school and who thinks that the teachers are overpaid. (PS. my AP Lit teacher was full time at my high school and worked part time at two different colleges just to make ends meet, so thats a load of bull)

If this happens, if Trump does in fact cut the funding and completely eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, organizations that rely on that funding will have to look for other sources.

What You Can Do

Speak Up!

  • Remember, Donald Trump works for us. Contact your local representatives about all issues that concern you, whether it be the Executive Orders, the “Wall”, or the possibility of cutting the funding to the NEA

Donate what you can!

  • You can go to Arts.gov and donate whatever you can to the National Endowment for the arts. Every little penny makes a difference because even a penny can accumulate interest over the years.

Go see art!

  • Go to the theatre, a museum, symphonies. It does not matter. Take a friend who might normally not be exposed to this sort of culture on a regular basis and introduce them to your world. Research the organization before attending to see if it is a nonprofit, and to reiterate the previous point, donate what you can if you enjoy the work they are doing.

 

Thank you so much for reading. If you have any comments or suggestions, please share them in the comments because I would love to hear what you have to say!

xx Katie

Pence at Hamilton

Last night at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City a performance of Hamilton took place. This should have been just like any other performance of this show, but it was not. As it has been WILDLY reported, Vice President-elect Mike Pence was in the audience. As he made his way to his seat, he was greeted with a cacophony, a mixed response of cheers, but also overwhelming boos.
 
To be expected, theaters are full of people with not necessarily conservative views. Theatres are typically full of more liberal minded people. So when the Vice President-elect walks in to a show that praises immigrants like Hamilton and Lafayette and shows that women like Angelica Schuyler are intellectually equal to men. This is a show that doesn’t put the founding fathers or any politicians on pedestals, but paints them in a realistic light. Yes, of course, hip hop, rap, r&b, and jazz weren’t things then and people didn’t break into song, but it is still so realistic. 
 
Apparently throughout the show, when the line “Immigrants, we get the job done” was said, the audience made sure to go EXTRA crazy, in order to solidify the message. The audience wanted to show Pence that this is something they all believed and make sure that he is hearing them as their representative. 
 
Also there were reports of a lot of noise when King George III says, “When your people say they hate you…” for obvious reasons. 
 
Yes, a lot of people at the Rodgers last night hate both Trump and Pence. They stand for a lot of things they do not believe in. I guarantee most of that audience cried the morning of November 9, 2016 when the future was solidified. A lot of them were scared and hurt, and they have every right to feel that way. 
 
These people and likeminded people across the globe felt like finally they were able to show their true feelings towards this man. Trying to make him hear them in the only way they could see fit in the moment. 

Now, the video, seen here


This is the transcript of what President-elect Donald Trump finds to be harassment. Written by Lin Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, and Jeffrey Seller and spoken by Brandon Victor Dixon:

“Thank you so much for joining us tonight. You know, we had a guest in the audience this evening. And Vice President-elect Pence, I see you’re walking out but I hope you will hear us just a few more moments. There’s nothing to boo here ladies and gentlemen. There’s nothing to boo here, we’re all here sharing a story of love.
We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out. And I encourage everybody to pull out your phones and tweet and post because this message needs to be spread far and wide, OK?
Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical, we really do. We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us — our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.
Again, we truly thank you for sharing this show. This wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men [and] women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.”

Donald Trump then tweeted this:
What part of this is rude or harassment? Im serious! How could any of this be considered rude? If anything, this is pure courage. 
This show stars Javier Muñoz as Hamilton, an openly gay man who has shared with the world the health battles he has been through. He has fought cancer in the past year and will forever live with HIV. Yet, he remains positive and motivated to tell stories on stage. Last night, he performed the role of Hamilton for a man who, as governor of Indiana, funded conversion therapy facilities. That takes such courage to stand on that stage as a gay man to do that and defy the future Vice President with just your pure existence. 
 
The man who actually reads the statement, Brandon Victor Dixon is not lacking in the courage department either. He became the face of that statement. Dixon, who just last season starred in Shuffle Along, a show about the first all black Broadway show and the discrimination and racism that company faced, is now in a lead role in one of the biggest musicals Broadway has ever seen. That company shows what America looks like now, whether or not Pence would like to admit it. That show is, as it has been said several times before, America then told by America now. 

 

 
The statement itself is a plea. It pleads with Pence to remember those on stage as he takes office in the coming months. The statement is one of that just asks to be remembered and not be overlooked. There is nothing harassing in it or mean or negative. It is to tell this incoming Vice President that we all hope he is inspired by the acts that happened on that stage, showing just how important all cultures are to the fabric of this country. And it was told from once Vice President to another. 
 
Brandon Victor Dixon thanked VP-elect Pence for coming to the show and listening to what they had to say.
It is clear to see that there is no harassment going on here. These people tell stories for a living. The story they told last night just so happened to be a real story about real politicians and a real Vice President that got a little too upset when things wouldn’t go his way.
 
Since last night several people have weighed in on Twitter. 
Christopher Jackson, formerly George Washington in Hamilton
Gavin Newsom, 49th Lt. Gov. of California
 
Guy Branum, comedian
Ben Siemon, actor
 
Kevin Porter, co-host of Gilmore Guys podcast

This is clearly a very challenging and difficult time for many Americans, but this (Hamilton’s) is the kind of class that needs to be shown in the coming times. I have hope for the theatre community and for America because without hope, we have nothing.