Why We Fight

Last Thursday, President Trump released his proposed budget, which asks for an increase in military spending and decreases in a lot of other places — including the arts. This isn’t a political blog, and up till now I’ve kept myself out of it for the most part, but there is a person writing these words. That person (me) cares about the arts.

The proposed budget would cut federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts entirely, as well as that for the National Endowment for the Humanities. There would be funding decreases for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds many local radio and TV stations. (NPR has more information here.)

It’s just a theoretical spending outline. Congress will write and pass the actual budget. What Trump put out on Thursday is essentially a wishlist, and it reflects his campaign promises.

Every week — sometimes every day — I am shocked that our president continues to try to make good on those promises. Maybe that’s naive, and it’s not like I took the things he said on the campaign trail lightly; a lot of them legitimately scared me. However, some part of me hoped they were hollow promises, empty threats. Sure he says he’ll build the wall, but he won’t really. He wouldn’t dare! Turns out, he would.

The NEA, NEH, and CPD support billion dollar industries and provide millions of jobs to Americans. It’s about more than that, though. If we cut funding to the arts, then what are we doing? What are we working toward? Where are we trying to go? What are we fighting for?

Snopes recently confirmed that that last question is not in fact a Winston Churchill quote, but the sentiment remains strong. Churchill did have something to say about the arts, however, and that’s what I’ll leave with you.

“The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”

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