'A blemish on America': The arts world reacts to proposed cuts in Trump's budget

A sampling of how arts leaders and organizations have reacted to the president's proposed cuts to the NEA and NEH.

Thursday’s news that President Trump’s budget blueprint had proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities immediately ignited strong support for the endangered agencies. Here’s how arts leaders and organizations reacted across the country.

“The arts play a critical role in society and strengthen our democracy. It is short-sighted to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, which works to ensure public access to the visual and performing arts. At a time when we see more and more people flocking to museums, we need to provide greater access to the arts, not less.” — Eli Broad, philanthropist and founder of the Broad museum

“This has to be perceived as an attack on the arts, and we can’t sit by. Five thousand dollars for a high school music program goes a long way. I can’t tell how many people have told me, ‘If it wasn’t for my music teacher, I wouldn’t have gone to school.’ When you talk about communities with challenges and youth that feel hopeless, arts are a saving grace. Where is there a better chance to influence someone than through music, arts, theater and literature?” — Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences

“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.” — Jane Chu, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts

“We are greatly saddened to learn of this proposal for elimination, as NEH has made significant contributions to the public good over its 50-year history. But as an agency of the executive branch, we answer to the president and the Office of Management and Budget. Therefore, we must abide by this budget request as this initial stage of the federal budget process gets under way.” — William D. Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities

“My strongest feeling is to hope that Congress sees how destructive this would be to American culture. I personally have worked with the support of as many Republicans as Democrats in the arts. It’s usually something we can all agree upon. There has never been a great civilization that has not supported the arts.” — Michael Govan, director of Los Angeles County Museum of Art

“When you take the arts away, you take humanity away. The elimination of the NEA will be a blemish on America.” — Lula Washington, co-founder of the Lula Washington Dance Theatre

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“Access to the arts has fueled generations of great Americans, uplifted communities and helped heal our nation’s greatest divides. Cutting federal support of these programs will not only hurt artists and those who benefit from their work, it will also send a damaging message to future generations about the power of art and its place in our culture.” — Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, Writers Guild of America West and East and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (in a joint statement)

“The president rails against ‘fake news,’ but in eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, his budget plan would sever the financial lifeline of scores of public TV and radio stations that are among the most reliable, trusted sources of real news for millions of Americans. A sensible budget would increase, not cut, taxpayer support for public broadcasting.” — Michael Copps, former commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (2001-11)

“$30,000 doesn’t seem like a lot of money to some, but in our universe, it is a lot of money. Cutting it down is just devastating for us as a company — and a nation. Taking this away for us has a big impact in what we can do, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones.” — Andreas Mitisek, artistic and general director of the Long Beach Opera

“So it's happening. In literature, this will mean the end of a whole ecology of small presses, and similar destruction in other arts " — Hari Kunzru, author of the new novel “White Tears”

“These organizations [the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services], like all arts institutions, are catalysts for employment and increase the quality of life in their communities. AAMD urges the Congress, where there has been strong bipartisan support for the NEA, NEH and IMLS, to continue funding these agencies, which play such an important role in our vibrant democracy.” — Assn. of Art Museum Directors

“The president's budget released today proposing the elimination of funding for the NEA, NEH and IMLS is shortsighted and does a terrible disservice to the American people. For more than 50 years, these programs have provided, at modest cost, essential support to arts organizations throughout the country — many times sustaining the arts in areas where people do not have access to major institutions like the Metropolitan Museum.” — Director Thomas P. Campbell and President Daniel H. Weiss, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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