According to sources associated with President Donald Trump’s transition team, the National Endowment for the Arts may soon face its final days.
The NEA was created in 1965. It is an independent federal agency whose purpose, according to its official website, is to “give Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations and develop their creative capacities.” The NEA offers a variety of grants and fellowships and sponsors arts programs nationwide.
President Trump’s intention to abolish the NEA was originally reported by The Hill, a daily newspaper based in Washington, D.C. The report noted similarities between its sources’ remarks and Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for 2017, a document published by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
The NEA has engendered controversy for decades.
In 1981, former President Ronald Reagan expressed an intention to abolish the agency, and in the mid-nineties, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich initiated an unsuccessful campaign to eliminate both the NEA and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Since the NEA was created, many of its detractors have opined it represents a waste of taxpayer revenue and contributes to an increasing federal deficit. In 2016, the NEA received approximately 0.003 percent of the federal budget.
Many have condemned President Trump and expressed support for and solidarity with the NEA, arguing the agency enables arts and culture to thrive in the United States. Soon after The Hill’s report was published, Tega Brain, an artist and environmental engineer, created www.neafunded.us, a website listing projects and programs supported by the NEA in 2016. A White House petition to protect the NEA vanished from petitions.whitehouse.gov soon after it was created.
Trump’s stance on the arts has been pretty unclear since the beginning, but the latest move from his administration could bring light to the president’s policies regarding the arts.
As of Jan. 26, the NEA has issued no comment on The Hill’s report or President Trump’s apparent intention to eliminate the agency.