President Donald Trump is not the most popular person in the U.S., which is funny considering how he won the presidency.
Nevertheless, he is the president, and the president gets to make a budget to float to Congress. Just last month, Trump floated a budget that would completely cut funding to the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, a notion that hasn’t been spoken about since LBJ. The NEA budget is $150 million, which factors out to every American being charged $0.46 as a result. It’s a small piece of the overall big picture and would kill art projects across the country.
Many of these cuts would have direct impacts on various TV and radio mainstays like PBS and NPR, in addition to the many shows that have loyal fan bases across America, like the beloved “Sesame Street”.
There have been multiple musicians and artists that have been vocal about their distaste for funding cuts; like us, they would love to see the annual budget increase, not decrease. We would like to showcase these musicians and artists and stand toe-to-toe with them in the fight against cutting any funding for these great programs that have driven art projects across America.
We ask the question “What is more American than the freedom to show the world how you feel about being American?” At ATYPICAL SOUNDS, we say fuck that shit, and so do many others in the arts community.
Byrne is the charismatic frontman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame-inducted band Talking Heads. He is a powerful voice in the music community and has also extended his influence well into other sectors of the arts. Byrne has been one of the most vocal against the cuts, attending a rally at New York’s City Hall in protest. Byrne also penned a wonderful essay entitled “What Good Are the Arts?” on his website adding that killing the economy in the arts sector is “completely stupid”. He continues “It’s probably the best investment the government makes—as far as a means of generating jobs, growth and social good […]”.
Wynton Marsalis is a Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musician and composer. He is also the co-artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Marsalis recently took to “CBS This Morning” to speak out against the funding. Marsalis said that the proposed cuts to arts education and funding are “preparing the public to become more ignorant”. Marsalis expanded on this, stating: “When we tell people our arts are not important, we’re preparing our public to be more ignorant so that we can exploit them more.”
Redford, an Oscar-winning director and Oscar-nominated actor, cited the NEA as playing a fundamental role in the creation of the Sundance Institute. The NEA has made significant contributions to the Institute, including the grant to help launch its first labs for independent filmmaking. He also credited the NEA with launching the Sundance Film Festival, which has, in turn, become a mainstay for launching the careers of a variety of filmmakers across the world. In an open letter posted on the Sundance Institute’s website, found here, Redford passionately writes about the funding cuts occurring at the wrong time and how “more than dollars, the NEA represents a civilization that values critical and creative thought.”
The St. Louis Symphony
The St. Louis Symphony is a hallmark of the Midwest. Founded in 1880, it is the second-oldest symphony orchestra in the United States. The symphony asked their board members to call their elected officials and let them know why cutting funding was important. Chief Executive of the symphony, Marie-Helene Bernard, joined other symphonies across the country, including the Metropolitan Opera, to voice opposition to the cuts. Bernard also urged its board members to contact members of their elected officials to oppose addition cuts under the Trump administration.
Listen, when Julie Andrews speaks, you fucking listen. Andrews recently co-authored an article on CNN with her daughter Emma Walton with regards to children’s participation in the arts. The screen and stage legend speaks to how arts budget cuts are a “huge mistake and enrich kids lives through community and culture sharing.” They highlight the importance of the arts by drawing on history, stating that “decades worth of research attests to the fact that the arts are among the most profoundly important and valuable ways to improve learning and promote success, from early childhood through adulthood.” The two then invite readers to view the positive statistics in a linked study published by the NEA, showing the long-term academic achievements for children involved in the arts. Their article can be read in its entirety here.