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.
- 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)
- 0.0004% (Billboard)
“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
- 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!