As they have every year of the Trump presidency, supporters of federal funding for the arts are looking to Congress to reject the administration’s latest proposal to reduce or eliminate spending for a host of high-profile organizations.
President Donald Trump’s proposed $4.8 trillion “Budget for America’s Future” for fiscal 2021 would eliminate federal cultural agencies that fund the arts and humanities, libraries, museums, public television and radio. It’s the fourth consecutive year he has sought the cuts.
Released Feb. 10, the budget plan calls for the elimination of four independent cultural agencies: the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Under a section titled, “Stop Wasteful and Unnecessary Spending,” the Trump budget introduced plans to cut these agencies because they are not considered “core federal responsibilities.”
But Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert L. Lynch called the budget proposal “misdirected.”
“For more than 50 years, the NEA has expanded access to the arts for all Americans, awarding grants in every congressional district throughout all 50 states and U.S. territories, particularly benefiting communities that have fewer opportunities to experience the arts,” Lynch said in a statement.
AFTA is a nonprofit organization that promotes support for the arts.
Rep. Brian Higgins, D-New York, tweeted that “#TrumpBudget fails to recognize the economic return on investments in the arts.”
“This call to zero out budgeting, again, for the NEA is truly mind boggling,” said Robin Bronk, CEO of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Creative Coalition, which advocates for the arts and entertainment communities.
“The facts speak overwhelmingly to support the outsized contribution the arts make to the economy and society,” she said.
The Creative Coalition’s president, actor and producer Tim Daly, said “eliminating funding for the NEA would be devastating to communities whose only access to the arts comes from projects made possible by NEA grants.”
Despite a divisive congressional climate, bipartisanship has prevailed not only to reject previous Trump proposals to cut the arts, but also to boost funding to NEA and NEH.
The total budget for both agencies was at a 10-year high in 2020, for a total of $162.25 million.
“I expect to see similar action by Congress this year, and hopefully a $7.75 million increase,” Lynch said.
Trump’s budget plan defined core federal government functions as national security, cybersecurity, targeted violence reduction, immigration control, drug enforcement and addressing the opioid epidemic.
The 2021 budget calls for cuts of $30 million to the NEA and $33.4 million to the NEH, which would eradicate both agencies.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Institute of Museum and Library Services would also be eliminated.
“To meet these challenges (of the 21st century) and seize opportunities, we must shift the government out of its old and outdated ways,” Trump wrote in the budget message.
His budget document asserted that “there are hundreds of programs in the Federal Government that have outlived their mission, duplicate efforts, or operate below peak efficiencies because of fragmented responsibilities between agencies.”
“The wasteful spending has been a contributing factor to the government’s deteriorating fiscal health.” the document said.
Assistant Treasury Secretary Monica Crowley told Fox Business at the time of the budget’s release that “the president understands that Washington’s habit of out of control spending without consequence has to be stopped before it threatens the economic prosperity that we are all enjoying.”
The Trump administration wants to cut budgets for programs such as social welfare, foreign aid and housing. Increased spending would be slated for the military, the border wall and NASA.
Trump’s overall budget landed with a thud in the House, controlled by the Democrats.
“The federal budget is supposed to be a statement of national values,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement. “Once again, the president is showing just how little he values the good health, financial security and well-being of hard-working American families. The president’s budget is anti-growth, does not create good-paying jobs and increases the national debt.”
House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky, called the spending proposal “destructive and irrational.”
“President Trump’s latest budget fails the American people and takes a wrecking ball to America’s economic future,” he said.
By Charlotte Parker Dulany