As we roll into our second week of presidency under Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States has begun to make some drastic decisions that could negatively affect thousands of people. One of these decisions includes the initial plan to cut federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation. This includes but is not limited to arts education, dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, media arts, music, theater opera, and visual arts. The NEA works with more than 20 other federal agencies, state and local governments, state and regional arts agencies, and private nonprofits on projects that provide opportunities for Americans to experience quality arts programming throughout the country.
According to Jane Chu, chairman for the NEA, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to strengthen the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation. For the 2015 Fiscal Year, the NEA awarded more than 2,300 grants in every Congressional district in the country, supporting more than 30,000 concerts, readings and performances and more than 5,000 exhibitions of visual and media arts with annual, live attendance of 33 million. The NEA awards generated more than $600 million in matching support, with the ratio of matching to federal funds 10:1, surpassing the required non-federal match of at least one to one.
The Hill indicates that many of the specific cuts were included in the 2017 budget adopted by the conservative Republican Study Committee, with the budget plan reducing federal spending by $8.6 trillion over the next decade. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.
Brian Darling, a former staffer at the Heritage Foundation, says:
“The Trump Administration needs to reform and cut spending dramatically, and targeting waste like the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be a good first step in showing that the Trump Administration is serious about radically reforming the federal budget.”
These cultural programs only make up 0.02 percent of federal spending, according to the Washington Post.
The petition reads:
“The Arts and Humanities are a vital part of our cultural identity and enhance the quality of our lives. They connect us to the past, they speak to us in the present, and they are our legacy, our gift to the future.”
Thousands upon thousands of college students are majoring in some type of art supported by the NEA throughout the country. Eight college music majors were interviewed for their initial thoughts and reactions to the danger that the NEA and the arts itself faces. Passion for music derives from each of these students, however some have mixed feelings in reference to the subject. From string and woodwind instruments to voice, many of their answers all connect to their never-ending support for the arts:
Cosette Ralowicz — Freshman — University of Maryland College Park — Music Performance Major, French Horn
“When I heard that Trump’s administration was planning to cut funding towards the NEA and NEH, it made me pretty angry. As a music major, this is a slap in the face and it is making me worry about not only my future but also about the future of the arts as a whole.The arts are really important; they are the epitome of human creativity, and the NEA provides a lot of support in order to let people create, enjoy, and experience art. This cut is saying that the arts are a waste of time and resources; that bringing people together to make them happy and celebrate human creativity is worthless, and that the work and passion that I and countless others dedicate our lives to doesn’t contribute anything to society.”
Alyssa Raqueno — Freshman — Catholic University of America — General Music Major, Violin
“I think his idea of defunding the arts is wrong in the case that art provides entertainment to the public, as well as freedom of expression.”
Jordan Budzinski — Sophomore — Duquesne University — Music Therapy and Psychology Double Major, Double Bass
“The way I see it, there are thousands of endowments for athletes, high SAT and other test scores, and if you’re a music major and you get good grades, you’re less likely to get an academic endowment because it’s reserved for those who major in something like science or math. Music majors are seen as disposable and unnecessary, but when you think about it, how prominent is music in your daily life? It’s playing in the cafes, in department stores, even in elevators. Yes, you don’t need a degree to make great music, but in order to learn, grow and continue to develop music, we need people to study it! Athletes get hundreds of thousands of dollars to perfect their sills to entertain the masses, and music does the same thing! Why shouldn’t we have the same opportunity at relatively the same price?”
Gabby Goril — Sophomore — Indiana University of Pennsylvania — Music Education and Performance Double Major, French Horn
“My first big problem is that so many people see that cutting this doesn’t just mean cutting your typical arts like music, theater, and dance, but this also includes literature, architecture, photography, and so much more. This is something that’s going to affect the nation in more ways than he [Trump] thinks and when it costs each American 46 cents a year, I see no reason why it should be cut completely. These arts are career choices for a lot of people, and by cutting them, you are discrediting our professions and our livelihoods. What is the point of taking out student loans to get a degree, to teach a kid whose parents voted for the guy who literally took my job and made it a joke. It’s so frustrating because there is so much power and beauty in the arts and without it, we lose sight of the more wonderful things in life and are doomed to the beginning of a dark path.”
Devin Brown — Sophomore — University of North Carolina at Greensboro — Music Education Major, Violin
“Without the arts, there would be no entertainment. No entertainment means no happiness. No happiness means no money. And no money wouldn’t do you any good living. Imagine what our future would be like without music, dance, theater, or art. Our future generations would surely not be able to find happiness. How can you not turn to a beautiful painting and not appreciate its beauty, or how can you not turn to the radio or your MP3 Players to not cheer you up by finding a happy song? How could you not dance your sorrows away with the ones you love? You are taking away the one thing that gives people happiness. What good will that be for the future of this country?”
Brian Kennedy — Freshman — University of Maryland College Park — Computer Science and Music Performance Double Major, Bassoon
"As a music major, I see the benefits that music has on people, however I understand the need to control government spending. I believe the government needs to cut funding in many areas and unfortunately one of them needs to be the arts."
Henrique Carvalho — Freshman — University of Maryland College Park — Music Performance, Voice
"I believe that cutting arts funding sends a greater message than the amount of money being lost. This move shows that his [Trump's] administration does not support free expression or anything outside of the status quo."
Jada Twitty — Freshman — University of Maryland College Park — Music Performance, Percussion
"There's actually a lot of money that goes towards our government from tourists paying to see the arts. By cutting the funding, the country will actually LOSE money. This is not a fiscally responsible decision. It's irresponsible and ill informed and will mess up the lives of many artists that are already struggling to survive as it is. People won't let the arts die, but funding is what lets the arts flourish."
Take it from the students that are studying the arts — it is important for everyone, not just those involved. Taking away the arts and humanities program would affect thousands of college students, professionals, and future generations all around the country. While opinions do differ between some students, their passion is unified and evident throughout.
Lead Image Credit: Daphine Henderson on Facebook