Trump’s proposed budget slashes federal arts funding

On Thursday, President Trump followed through with his promise to massively reduce government spending with the release of his 2018 budget proposal, which notably eliminates four agencies that specialize in funding the arts.

His $1.1 trillion budget outline proposes a $54 million increase in defense spending, while slashing the budgets of non-defense agencies and completely eliminating many federally funded programs. Four arts programs are set to be casualties of the president’s priorities on defense: the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Corporation for Public Broadcasting (or CPB – which helps fund NPR and PBS) and Institute of Museum and Library Services.

In January, the Trump administration said its goal was to decrease federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years. The president’s budget calls for a $971 million cut in 2017 to meet that goal.

As previously reported by MediaFile, the federal arts programs Trump plans to get rid of only make up .02 percent of government spending. A 2016 report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis found that the arts and culture industry accounts for 4.2 percent of U.S. GDP and, as of 2013, employs 4.74 million people.

In Fiscal Year 2015, 9 percent of the entire nation’s public radio financing was covered by the CPB. NPR fares a bit better, with only “less than 1% of NPR’s annual operating budget comes in the form of grants from CPB and federal agencies and departments,” according to their website.

While PBS’ financial documents don’t specify the funding they get from CPB, their reach is so wide that any change would have impact. According to their website, “82% of all U.S. television households – and 200 million people – watch PBS.”

As CNN points out, the CPB has been on the proverbial budget “chopping block” since the 1970s – but efforts to do this have yet to succeed due to various battles in Congress. Still, the organizations in question are disturbed by this development.

NEH Chairman William D. Adams said in a statement provided to MediaFile he is “greatly saddened” by the executive branch’s plan to eliminate his agency, which has awarded 63,000 grants worth $5.3 billion to fund humanities projects since its inception in 1965.

“That public investment has led to the creation of books, films, museum exhibits and exciting discoveries,” Adams said. “The agency is continuing its normal operations at this time.”

The CPB, which will be hurt but can still survive without federal funding, lamented that public media — one of “America’s best investments” — is now in the crosshairs of the White House.

“There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services,” CPB President and CEO Patricia Harrison said in a statement shared with MediaFile.

“The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history and promoting civil discussions for Americans in rural and urban communities alike.”

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