Funding For NPR, PBS and Public Arts is Safe … For Now

President Trump has “begrudgingly” signed a new spending bill that, among many other things, includes increases for art funding, something that is needed now more than ever.

Late in March, Congress thumbed its nose at President Trump’s demands to cut national arts funding and passed measures that actually increase spending for three out of four key agencies.

The Washington Post reports:

The National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities will receive $152.8 million each, an increase of $3 million. The Institute of Museum and Library Services will get $240 million, up from $231 million, while the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will remain at $465 million.

This National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities spending, which was approved as part of the wider $1.3 trillion spending bill, is a significant win for arts advocates who had feared that the Trump administration would pressure Congress to abandon its longstanding commitments to funding the arts.

Robert Lynch, CEO of Americans for the Arts said that this spending increase was a testament to the arts community’s continued lobbying efforts, adding, “This funding increase of $3 million for both the NEA and NEH to the final FY 2018 budget is in stark contrast to a year ago, when the Endowments were facing a proposed termination by President Trump. I am very pleased that members of Congress have decided to invest more funding into the arts—this support from both parties is a testament that the arts are bipartisan.”

It is, in fact, the second time that Congress has rejected the Trump administration’s attempts to gut art funding.

However, leaders of the community are warning that this will likely be a continued and protracted fight with the Trump administration, so celebrations should come with the sobering thought that this battle is likely to repeat itself, if not through direct attempts to defund via line-item vetoing, then in maneuvers to restrict how federal money is accessed and channeled.

So why does Trump want to reduce arts spending?

The administration contends that federal money is better spent elsewhere and that the shortfall in funding can be made up from private donations.

In proposing the arts cuts last year, the administration reportedly wrote “CPB funding comprises about 15% of the total amount spent on public broadcasting, with the remainder coming from non-federal sources, with many large stations raising an even greater share. This private fundraising has proven durable, negating the need for continued federal subsidies. Services such as PBS and NPR, which receive funding from CPB, could make up the shortfall by increasing revenues from corporate sponsors, foundations, and members. In addition, alternatives to PBS and NPR programming have grown substantially since CPB was first established in 1967, greatly reducing the need for publicly-funded programming options.”

This proposal didn’t just upset those in the arts community however, but also those within the political sphere who see publicly funded institutions like NPR and PBS as more neutral sources of news and entertainment.

More than 60,000 Care2 members have signed a petition asking the Trump administration not to cut budgets for NPR and PBS.

Many of those people worry that any attempts to privately fund these sources of information would create a shift in political affiliation that might lean either too far right or left, thereby losing vital sources of measured coverage and thoughtful debate.

While NPR’s neutrality is often hotly debated, it is undeniable that in a market place that is so heavily commercialized, having entertainment sources that are meant to actively guard against bias without the pressure of corporate sponsorship is important. There are other reasons to keep these institutions alive, too. PBS can play a key role in pre-school education and wider education support.

Critics of the Trump administration charge there is another reason for Trump’s dislike of the arts, though–chiefly, the arts don’t bow to corporate interests.

We need the arts now more than ever

President Trump has shown he has a very particular dislike of criticism and dissent. He has repeatedly belittled his critics — and, accusers — while failing to answer their criticisms. His administration has, similarly, taken to hiding behind accusations of fake news in order to delegitimize his critics. Trump is, in a very real sense, the worst qualities of the classic internet critic distilled into presidential form.

The arts offer a means of countering this with the very best of what our connectedness can bring: elevating minority voices, fostering outsider thinking, providing careful deliberation of difficult subjects, and, perhaps most important in these divisive times, the arts allow us to meditate on the basic truths of our lives today.

The arts offer us hope that we are heard and that, in being heard we can find freedom and relief from pain and fear. Most crucially, the arts also empower young people in ways that are just as vital as other educational pursuits like math and science. They allow our youth to be validated, and to develop the skills that can position them as empathetic leaders of the future.

And as we have seen from the Parkland survivors, our young people are a powerful force of change. The arts can help cultivate that.

 

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

31 comments

Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

Thank you

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heather g
heather g7 months ago

Trump needs that money diverted to his trips to his various homes.

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Danuta Watola
Danuta W7 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Lesa D
Lesa DiIorio7 months ago

'for now' being the operative words...

thank you Steve...

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Winn A
Winn A7 months ago

Noted

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Winn A
Winn A7 months ago

Thanks

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R7 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Anne M
Anne Moran7 months ago

Love PBS,,, they have some great programs...

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Debbi W
Debbi W7 months ago

Thank goodness we won't be relegated to the dark ages of information and the arts. Just because Herr Drumpf isn't interested in the arts. I would very much like to know how he defines education, what he thinks is a good education. Attending the 'right' schools is not the same thing as a good education, any ore than watching Fox News keeps you informed about the latest news. Sinclair is as bad or worse than Fox.

NPR, PBS and Public Arts can't be bought and won't pander to special interest. What a wonderful concept. Thank goodness they are safe, and hope they re,main that way.

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Alea C
Alea C7 months ago

Noted.

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