President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to release a budget plan this month that could include major cuts to or elimination of a number of agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which provides support for thousands of institutions across the country, including theater productions, museums, cultural centers and arts education.
During the past 16 years, a total of $3.3 million has been given by the NEA to Queens institutions such as the Queens Museum of Art, New York Hall of Science, Jamaica Center for the Arts and Learning, Queens Symphony Orchestra and many more.
While the NEA’s annual funding makes up a tiny fraction of federal spending— at approximately .0037 percent— it has a significant impact, especially in New York City, the arts capital of the United States, and Queens, the world’s most diverse borough.
Our national arts and culture tell the story of who we are as a people. Regardless of whether your preference is fine arts, dance, theater, film, music or any other means of expression, the arts foster understanding and hope, fuel imagination, provide escapism, teach us about different cultures and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in our city.
Tourists spend $4.2 billion on the arts in New York City annually, and NEA funding helps children looking for a career in the arts to have access to programs that can put them on the right path. Many of our borough’s smaller cultural institutions may cease to exist if they lose NEA funding.
It would be a terrible mistake if the president cuts funding for the arts. It won’t save much money for the federal budget, and the impact to arts institutions—large and small alike—and programs that generate interest in the arts for children would be devastating.
On the campaign trail, Trump often vowed to “make America great again.” But defunding the institutions that help to shape our national identity would do the exact opposite.