With breaking news coming from President Trump’s cabinet every day, there are stories that go overlooked by the hour. One in particular is an idea that has turned into a reality for artists nationwide.
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has structurally been attacked by multiple politicians and presidents in the past decades. After being attacked by Ronald Regan in 1981 and Jesse Helms in the late-80s, the NEA stood tall, but was ultimately countered by hands reaching into their budget.
As we transition into the next presidency, we transition into a new team that will run the NEA, and it seems their battle against Trump to remain an independent agency will be a short one. Two new critical members of the team, John Gray and Russ Vought are leading the discussions into cutting arts funding. As reported by Anna Gaca at spin.com, these two men have also worked for the Heritage Foundation, alongside Mike Pence.
Once again, I wanted to get a perspective of the artists’ themselves. This time around, I spoke with artists who have placed in galleries, or worked on NEA funded projects.
First, I spoke with Lee Tucker, a man of older age who was born in St. Louis and moved to New Orleans in the late-70s. When asked about his thoughts on the budget cuts, Tucker said he believes that it would put more power into the hands of the artists. Directing attention to the politics of art, Tucker says, “budget cuts will help because the public will be able to decide what art is worth funding.”
Tucker’s abnormal take on the the news inspired to me to converse with him more about the significance of the endowment, and in the end he explained that the politics of art are deeper than you imagine.
Next comes Kat Walker, a woman who grew up in a military family and moved all around the country, ultimately coming to New Orleans in the late-90s. Her distaste in the subject was apparent, as her only response to the budget cuts was that she hated it and it was, “unfair to the artists.”
Walker’s response made me think, why not let the people vote? It’s obvious that the news won’t hit the artists until it happens, but why not let the very people whose lives will change, decide on their future?
In the end, all budget cuts need to be reviewed by Congress, but House Speaker Paul Ryan whose budget plans include cutting off the NEA, the National Endowment for Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.