Friday, March 17, 2017

NEA, Budget Cuts, and the Arts

I read about the budget proposal to eliminate the NEA and NEH and had several conflicting thoughts as a 'liberal libertarian.' I support the arts and humanities. And I don't necessarily agree with eliminating federal gov funding. But I also know that the NEA isn't inherent. It has been around since the 1960s. Before the NEA there was the WPA, Federal Arts Project, Federal Writers Project, and a much-more comprehensive umbrella of arts programs started by FDR. And these orgs were formed out of the Great Depression and gave rise to a new boom in American arts. So there appears to be a human need for the arts that is so deep that it can not be undone by one president or one budget. It will flourish and flow in other ways at the state, local, and crowdsourced levels. I also think that if the NEA had to a raise a budget from artists and stars it would far exceed the $140 million it gets from the feds. I would give every month...just like I do to the ACLU, the NAACP, BLM, and other orgs. I give b/c I am aware of the need.

In some ways it appears as if Americans have to panic or face the risk of losing something in order to really cherish. I support the arts and -this sounds terrible- but the NEA is just a delivery system of that support. I don't believe the doom and gloom that the fed gov cutting the NEA will end the arts. On the contrary...I think we're much stronger than we believe ourselves to be when called upon to act. We are more generous, smart, and capable. Maybe that's my libertarian side talking, but I am not a slave to one administration or one person's budget. I have a multitude of resources. I think this way now in LA with TV money. I thought this way at Juilliard. I thought this way when I was struggling to pay my rent. I thought this way when I had to produce my own show and only had $100 (the show won a few awards and I made my money back ten fold). And I thought this way through many failures, shortcomings, successes, debt collectors, awards banquets, mutual funds, hits, and misses. I will continue to think this way regardless of economic or external circumstances. I know this about myself -but more importantly- I know this about the arts and the spirit that drives it. We will thrive.

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