Thoughts on Defunding the Arts

If the Republican Administration or supporters of abolishing sources that contribute to the longevity of artistic culture cannot find it within themselves to empathize with the "artsy world" or are unable to justify promoting the arts, could they justify, for instance, why security costs for Trump Tower ($183 million) outweighing NEA funding ($148 million) signals political progression?

While they are at it, perhaps they could also justify the economic logic behind both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts headquarters being outed from Washington in 2014 in order to make way for the Trump International Hotel, the renovation of which cost $200 million, a sum larger than the budget of either agency.

If the goal is to defund programs that are "wasting resources," why not start with those linked to the leader of the free world? 

Those in favor of defunding the arts argue for economic prudence; yet, funding for the arts, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, takes up a negligible portion (0.004%) of the overall fiscal budget - approximately 46 cents per American. The endowment agencies currently stand at about $148 million each, with the budget for public broadcasting currently at $445 million. Combined, funding for the arts requires about $741 million - less than 1 percent of the federal budget. Despite the fact that the amount of funding for the arts within the whole fiscal budget is insignificant, conservatives claim small cuts are necessary to roll back uncontrollable federal spending. 

Perhaps it is less about money and more about eradicating an ideology. It could be about rendering the artistic world as a so-called haven for leftist thought. In 1997, the Heritage Foundation wrote in Ten Good Reasons to Eliminate Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts that a "...radical virus of multiculturalism has permanently affected the agency, causing artistic efforts to be evaluated by race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation instead of artistic merit." 

Because modern society is overwhelmed by a politically sensitive climate, I understand that the implications of judging art purely by diversity can undermine the overall recognition of objective, artistic value. However, resources for programs such as the NEA do not deserve to be defunded merely because artistic products raise uncomfortable questions, probe controversial topics, or push boundaries. The notion that the "...NEA continues to promote the worst excesses of multiculturalism and political correctness, subsidizing art that demeans the values of ordinary Americans..." implies that topics that people find offensive or do not agree with should be censored, filtered, or be made invisible.

In reality, art renders itself as an equalizer and goes beyond partisan politics; it often sheds light on objective parts of reality and history that are often hidden or fail to see the light of day. Defunding the arts does not just hurt the "artsy world" or the "left" or the "politically correct" - it hurts everyone. Defunding the arts, reducing funding for education, eliminating environmental regulations in spite of overwhelming scientific consensuses on climate change, all while boosting military spending to implement a "hard power" budget, an "America First" mentality, and a nationalistic agenda is short-sighted and contradictory. The Republican Administration has made populist appeals in the past, yet are blatantly directing their compassion towards special interests.

Arts and activism work best hand-in-hand. Healthy dispositions of the arts, scientific progress, the education system, and environmental consciousness are all signs of national strength - not just towers, walls, and military prowess.