The US music community has expressed outrage at the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate two publicly-funded agencies dealing with the arts – the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities – as well as terminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund public TV broadcaster PBS and National Public Radio stations….
The combined budget of both Washington, DC-based independent federal agencies is about $300 million. The NEA had a budget of $146.2 million in 2015, benefiting creators through arts-related organisations. The agency is “dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education.” The budget of the CPB was $445 million in 2016, and is one of the main sources of funding for PBS and NPR, both offering a wide range of TV and radio programmes on the arts.
“We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every Congressional District in the nation,” said NEA chairman Jane Chu.
On a practical level, nothing will change for the time being for all these organisations. The budget is a proposal submitted to Congress which is the only branch of government to have the power to vote the budget.
For singer/songwriter Blake Morgan, who is at the origin of the #IRespectMusic, the NEA is part of a personal narrative. “I’m a professional musician today in large part because of the National Endowment for the Arts,” he told Music Week. “My mother, the author Robin Morgan, won an NEA endowment when I was a child. With that money, we were able to pay off some bills, buy winter coats, and my mother used the remainder to pay for piano lessons for me, as well as my first entrance into music school. Without the endowment, neither would have been possible at the time.”
Morgan added: “I’m outraged at this nonsensical attack on American artists, and the arts in general. Every authoritarian leader in history does two things when they rise to power: first they attempt to discredit journalists, and then they attack and repress artists. This particular leader is no exception. American artists – of every discipline – will fight him, and anyone who attempts to do the same. And I will be on the front lines of that fight.”