Art is an important part of culture, but the federal government’s role in supporting it has been questionable, at best, in recent decades.
With that in mind, President Donald Trump planned to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, two federal programs that each received an astonishing $148 million in funding in 2016 alone, according to The Hill.
On its website, the NEA describes itself as an “independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities.” It’s an agency Trump reportedly wanted actor Sylvester Stallone to take over, but Stallone wasn’t interested.
Likewise, the NEH describes itself as an organization dedicated to “promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans.”
In a report on wasteful spending filed four years ago, it was revealed that this mission apparently involved wasting nearly $1 million to study the influence of romance in books, films, etc., according to TheBlaze. And that doesn’t even count that study of French lesbians since World War II.
The president-elect also aspired to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, another bloated program whose sole purpose is “to ensure universal access to non-commercial, high-quality content” by “distributing more than 70 percent of its funding to nearly 1,500 locally owned public radio and television stations.”
Some pundits have noticed that Trump’s proposed cuts closely mirrored a document produced last year by the Heritage Foundation.
“Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for plays, paintings, pageants, and scholarly journals, regardless of the works’ attraction or merit,” the foundation wrote at the time. “In the words of Citizens Against Government Waste, ‘actors, artists, and academics are no more deserving of subsidies than their counterparts in other fields; the federal government should refrain from funding all of them.’”
The arts are vital to American culture and well-being, but it’s hard to argue that federal funds have had a positive effect on the nation’s arts.