Arts Leaders Decry Move to Defund NEA

Steve Litt, Cleveland Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Leaders of five major Northeast Ohio art museums released a
joint letter decrying the Trump Administration's plan to wipe out the national endowments for the arts and humanities.

The letter, released Friday and posted in its entirety at the bottom of this story, follows other statements by arts and humanities leaders locally and nationwide deploring the damage to the United States that would be caused by zeroing out the $300 million both endowments receive annually.

"The combined budgets of the NEA and NEH cost each American less than one dollar per year," the letter states.

The signers of the letter are:
Mark Masuoka, executive director and CEO of the Akron Art Museum; Andria Derstine, director of the Allen Memorial Art Museumat Oberlin College; William Griswold, director and president of the Cleveland Museum of Art; Jill Snyder, executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland; and Fred Bidwell, co-founder and director of Cleveland's Transformer Station gallery.

The letter argues that the cuts proposed by Trump, which have not yet been approved by both houses of Congress, "would be detrimental not only because of the impact it would have on cherished organizations and the vital services they provide, but also in terms of lost jobs, reduced tourism, and the elimination of popular cultural amenities.

"It would diminish access to arts education, depriving future generations of exposure to differing perspectives and new ideas, and it would mean less civic engagement, as well as less regional, national, and international cultural exchange."

The letter also points out that for many if not all recipients, grants from the NEA and the NEH have a multiplier effect, because they help qualifying organizations raise far more money through matching grants or the imprimatur that the federal grants confer.

"Although no arts organization in the United States can afford to rely solely on federal funding to fulfill its mission, the benefits of such funds are crucial to creating and maintaining vibrant communities," the letter states.

The letter concludes: "During this moment of heightened national discord, extinguishing such vital funding for the arts and humanities is not a cut that our country can afford.

Link to letter.