President Donald Trump has revealed his first federal budget plan, and as many had feared, he plans to eliminate both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, in a move that could prove devastating for America’s arts and culture groups.
According to the New York Times, this move would be the first time a president has called for ending the endowments, which were created in 1965 after President Lyndon B Johnson signed legislation created to “promote progress and scholarship in the humanities and the arts in the United States… in order to achieve a better understanding of the past, a better analysis of the present, and a better view of the future.” He also declared that any “advanced civilisation” must fully value the arts, the humanities, and cultural activity.
Although both organisations requested a mere $148 million in funds in 2016 – accounting for .006 percent (combined) of the $3.9 trillion spent by the U.S. government that fiscal year (FYI: Mr. Trump has spent $10 million of taxpayer’s money in three consecutive weekend visits to his Mar-a-Lago, Florida estate) – the cuts are part of the president’s reported $10.5 trillion spending reduction plan alongside a $54 billion increase in defence spending.
President Trump’s government is also expected to scrap the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports PBS, NPR, and other public TV and radio outlets.
PEN, an organisation of writers and editors focusing on freedom of expression, has organised a petition calling for the preservation of the NEA which has received more than 230,000 signatures. “The Trump budget – if enacted – would erase federal funding for the arts and humanities, depriving artists and scholars of crucial support for the work that fuels America’s innovation and creativity, and hindering efforts to allow all Americans to enjoy and participate in our vibrant national culture,” reads a statement.