Former Reality TV Star Trump Aims to Cut Arts Funding

January 20th, 2017
Former Reality TV Star Trump Aims to Cut Arts Funding

The United States will have a new president at noon today and the National Endowment for the Arts is on the budgetary chopping block for the new administration, according to reporting by The Hill. Why does this matter for cinema5D readers? Since 1965, the NEA has given out thousands of grants to budding filmmakers and artists and a grant of $25,000 even sourced the creation of Robert Redford’s Sundance Lab in the late 70’s, precursor to the famed Sundance Film Festival — which started this week in Park City, Utah. This is bad news for indie filmmakers everywhere: 

 

 

 

Incoming President Trump’s team will be dissolving the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) according to reports coming out of transition team discussions. Beyond that, NPR and PBS will be privatized and the department of commerce, transportation, energy, justice and state will all experience large cuts and program cancellations, but let’s focus on the implications for filmmakers.

The NEA’s funding has dwindled over the years, barely leaving enough to justify the cut given the overall deficit. For comparison, in 2013, Germany had a cultural budget of 1.63 billion dollars, but the NEA spent around  1/40th of that  on arts funding in the United States. France, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Australia, Finland, and Ireland all spend more when adjusted for population then the United States on the arts.

The NEA’s grant budget of $146.2 million amounts to 0.003847% of the United States 3.8 Trillion yearly budget and as the Washington Post‘s Jared Kushner points out: the NEA’s budget is about half of what Trump’s son-in-law paid for 666 Fifth Avenue in 2006.  So there you go, entire body of artists across all genres and media in an entire nation, your collective funding isn’t worth even half a percent or half a townhouse.  (Also, can we talk about that address???)

Caption: Still from Mad as Hell! Feature length documentary funded by a $400,000 grant from the NEA.

President Obama, now citizen Obama, made the point in his final press conference that the United States dominates the Olympics, especially with female athletes, because of a focus on developing the talents of young athletes with acts like Title IX. The arts, like athletics, will not continue to develop in the United States if funding is not devoted to fostering the talents of young artists, who otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity to practice their craft or even, simply, learn about it in school.

Yesterday, when asked about how the Trump presidency would change filmmaking and the Sundance Film Festival in particular, Robert Redford spoke to the apprehension in the entertainment industry, but also spoke of hope:

“You want to look for where the light is going to come. In this current dialogue, it looks like a lot is going to be taken away from us and that will galvanize the people. I hope and I think it will be followed by a movement.”

Caption: Image of baseball player, Dick Allen, from the documentary: A Long Way from Home: The Untold Story of Baseball’s Desegregation — Film funded by $500,000 grant from the NEA.

That movement will be necessary to fill gaps where support will no longer exist. Though it may not be as impressive an organization as European counterparts, let’s take a moment to reflect upon the good work that the NEA has consistently done. According to a report issued by the organization on their activities in fiscal year 2015 (last available data) the organization awarded some 2,300 grants to artists in every congressional district in the US. Here are just a few stats illustrating the NEA’s work in 2015:

  • 36 NEA Fellowships in Creative Writing totaling $900,000.
  • $9.9 Million Awarded to the “Underserved” as part of arts partnerships.
  • Supported, through grants, broadcast television, radio, and cable productions that reached an audience of an estimated 360 million.

When there is so much uncertainty on the world stage, some may find the arts less of a priority and be glad at redistribution of funds. When crisis comes a calling, the arts are very often forgotten: according to the National Arts Index 2013 report, arts funding reached a record low in 2011 following subprime mortgage financial disaster.  However, I would urge readers to heed the words of Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam, who so wisely said the following at the Sundance Opening Press Conference today:

“I don’t think this is an issue just for filmmakers, the question of the NEA… this is a human issue, this is about free expression and it’s about what role the arts play… It feels hard to imagine that being a real budget cut measure. It feels more like a statement about the arts and I think what people can do, not just artists, but all people… to speak up for what role the arts bring to our culture and to our lives and to our ability to understand our world. So, I think its a critical issue for all Americans.”

Funding for arts is now more vital than ever. The NEA accepts tax deductible online donations HERE

What do you think? Should the National Endowment of the Arts be dissolved to reduce the national deficit by 0.003847%? Comment below!

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
Source: The Hill, Washington Post, Alternet

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Member
January 23rd, 2017

Why did you phrase your opening paragraph like that?

“Incoming President Trump’s team will be dissolving the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) according to reports coming out of transition team discussions. Beyond that, NPR and PBS will be privatized…”

This is just false. President Trump’s team will not be dissolving anything at this point! The reports state that they are currently CONSIDERING proposed budget cuts in multiple areas. Also – maybe you’re unaware on how the U.S. budget is actually passed??

Here is a breakdown… “The President submits a budget request to Congress. The House and Senate pass budget resolutions. House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees “markup” appropriations bills. The House and Senate vote on appropriations bills and reconcile differences.”

We have a process in the U.S. It is not a dictatorship. This article falls right in line with much half-truth propaganda. Please stop.

I’m not even saying I agree with the Trump administration, or with the proposed cuts, but let’s have some sound reporting if we are reporting at all.

Member
January 23rd, 2017
Reply to  Lane McCall

“…………..but let’s have some sound reporting if we are reporting at all.”
Agree its simple really, just stick to Cinema 5D’s own mission statement and were good.

“We bring you information about the latest advancements in camera and filmmaking technology as well as industry news, reviews and analysis of cinema cameras and video DSLR’s.”

 Leon Benzakein
Leon Benzakein
Member
January 23rd, 2017
Reply to  Clayton Moore

“We bring you information about the latest advancements in camera and filmmaking technology as well as industry news, reviews and analysis of cinema cameras and video DSLR’s.”

Maybe this article falls under”as well as industry news”.

Member
January 23rd, 2017
Reply to  Leon Benzakein

Possibly ….. or rumor its hard to say, but be careful not to get to close to politics (unless that’s your goal) because your brand can take a very quick turn one way or the other.

Member
January 24th, 2017
Reply to  Clayton Moore

Well said Clayton. I am so weary of the agenda and how it’s woven through every aspect of your lives. This is a great site, let’s not have it ruined by CNN type sensationalism and fake news.

 Mike Morrison
Mike Morrison
Member
January 23rd, 2017

1st- Lets not confuse reality TV with a game show designed for the advancement of strong players to get a prize at the end for winning.

2- Im glad taxes arent being paid to fund what others see as “art” anymore. The government shouldnt be funding others’ passion especially considering how easy it is for anyone to make a film these days. Yeah Sundance was a good outcome but it can be argued that people decades ago didnt have the capacity to produce a decent film and get it distributed unlike the present.

This is a non issue and will only lead to less crap being produced and more worthy pieces getting attention.

Those who want to make it in the industry will do so on their own. It will seperate the talent from the talentless.

 Leon Benzakein
Leon Benzakein
Member
January 22nd, 2017

Last I heard the United States of America is a Democracy, a government for the people by the people.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The strength of a Democracy is in the hands of “We, the people”.

It is time to remind those in power that they work for “We, the people”.

The money that the government collects is to be used for the benefit of “We, the people”.

Therefore, the government of “We, the people” must fund the arts. It makes us a better “We, the people”.

Member
January 23rd, 2017
Reply to  Leon Benzakein

FYI: The United States is not a Democracy. It is a Republic. The strength of a Republic is the rule of law, not the rule of the people. In a true democracy, the majority may decide that it’s a good idea to lock up all the left handed people because they are inferior. In a Republic the law prevents the majority from making bone-headed “mob mentality” decisions that hurt the minority.

 Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett
Member
January 21st, 2017

Personally, I’d rather the government not be involved in funding everything under the sun. To the artists that this is important to, create a nonprofit organization and, once artists that have benefited become successful, give back to help the next generation.

Regarding the NEA, they have been mired in controversy over the years. Here’s a link to an article (just to present both sides) that gives reasons to cut funding. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/1997/04/bg1110-ten-good-reasons-to-eliminate-funding-for-the-nea

GForce Highlander
Guest
January 21st, 2017

The irony…

Kerrick Martin
Guest
January 21st, 2017

Good. Government needs to get out of art. Modernism is long overdo for a funeral.

Ehren Addis
Ehren Addis
Member
January 21st, 2017

Tax subsidies can go next.

Michael Meredith
Guest
January 21st, 2017

I think it is a great idea considering the pisser art getting passed off. Why should i pay for it?

Member
January 23rd, 2017

Amen!

Crimson Son
Crimson Son
Member
January 23rd, 2017

Why? The same reason citizens pay for things they dont want – like wars – or things that do not directly affect them – like roads and bridges in another state. Or subsidies to farmers or Wall St.

The whole government should get out of the way of free market is kind of silly. Government’s affect on the market can be good and bad. It depends on each policy, not necessarily a political philosophy like con vs libs.

What are the biggest human achievements in the last 100 years? Nuclear energy (or bomb), computers, internet and space travel.
Guess what – government were the biggest actors to those not free enterprise.

Without government there would be no internet, thus no YouTube, Vimeo, H.264 and C5D.

And just to be clear. I have no problems with the elimination of NEA or cut its budget. Not because I don’t believe in what they do, but there are higher priorities IMO.

But to justify this decision behind “Why should I pay for it” is non sensical. Our taxes go to a lot of things we don’t like. If that is the reason we should eliminate it, then we can pretty much eliminate everything.

Member
January 23rd, 2017
Reply to  Crimson Son

But I think that is exactly what Michael is saying. He doesn’t want to pay for it. He is voicing his opinion on a proposed budget cut. The best thing to do is to contact his state representatives voicing the same. This way his representative can be informed as to the will of the people in his/her state and represent them accordingly.

He has every right to ask “why he should pay for it?”. And if he decides he doesn’t want to pay for it, then his voice should be heard. If you decide you “do want to pay for it”, then you too have the right to express your opinion and have your voice heard by your state representatives.

Member
January 21st, 2017

Politics finally makes it to C5D ……..

William Van Winkle
Guest
January 20th, 2017

I received an NEH grant when I was 16, and it changed my life. The thought that such opportunities might vanish for those who need them so much.. ugh. Such a dark day.

William Van Winkle
Guest
January 20th, 2017

The headline implies irony, but there is little to no art in “reality” TV.

Nino Leitner
Guest
January 20th, 2017

The art of scamming people on Trump level?

Member
January 20th, 2017

Does this surprise anyone?

Vlad Box Rojas
Guest
January 20th, 2017

Mediocrity is far easier than trying to be excellent. GOP in the US has always been leaded by Used car salesmen, with zero culture.

Joseph Mullins
Guest
January 20th, 2017

Umm, shouldn’t private funds support the arts anyway? Why does the government have to fund everything, especially a government that is trillions in debt and hasn’t passed a balanced budget in decades?

Also, as a guy that’s worked in “reality tv”, I wouldn’t call it “art.”

Member
January 20th, 2017
Reply to  Joseph Mullins

When I pay may taxes, unlike Trump, I’d like them to go to things like education, science and art, not the military industrial machine, oil tycoons, and giving more billionaires even larger tax cuts.

Member
January 20th, 2017
Reply to  Joseph Mullins

um because if you leave everything to the private sector you will have a very limited voice. funding artists at an early stage of their career is an extension of education and education should not be just for those who are connected to wealth.

Crimson Son
Crimson Son
Member
January 20th, 2017
Reply to  Joseph Mullins

This might surprise you, but artists of varying levels worked in TV shows including The Apprentice.

Anyway, private enterprise is not always the solution to every ill. And government has always been part of artistic endeavor from small to the grandest. Greeks, Romans, Ottoman, Egyptian, etc.

Movies and TV are made in tax haven location. Every “hot” production hub outside of NYC and LA are basically tax havens.

Member
January 20th, 2017
Reply to  Joseph Mullins

I have a majority of customers that are non-profit performing arts groups. None of them come close to breaking even from ticket sales. The fact is, performances just wouldn’t happen without alternate sources of funding, and the NEA contributes to that.

 Joah Colby
Member
January 21st, 2017
Reply to  Joseph Mullins

The arts are one of the USA’s greatest assets. Our movies, TV shows and music are the nation’s most recognisable exports. Privatising anything always sounds good but having public funds available (especially to artist) encourages innovation. Government does not have to fund everything. Government endowments create opportunities. If you work in the industry this is bad news.

Member
January 23rd, 2017
Reply to  Joah Colby

Maybe it would be bad news, if it were news. Fact is, Trump isn’t dissolving anything or defending anything. The administration is looking at multiple areas to potentially cut the budget. No proposed budget has been finalized, nor submitted nor voted upon by neither the House, nor Senate, nor passed by anybody anywhere.

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