The arts? Who needs 'em? But wait. Even some Republicans might object | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The arts? Who needs 'em? But wait. Even some Republicans might object

Posted By on Sat, Mar 18, 2017 at 8:04 AM

click to enlarge ENDOWED ARTIST: Heidi Carlsen-Rogers of Bella Vista, whose work is shown here, is among dozens of recipients of small NEA grants in Arkanas. - HEIDI CARLSEN-ROGERTS
  • Heidi Carlsen-Rogerts
  • ENDOWED ARTIST: Heidi Carlsen-Rogers of Bella Vista, whose work is shown here, is among dozens of recipients of small NEA grants in Arkanas.
The New York Times reports that even some Republicans in Congress are lining up to work to preserve the relatively paltry amount in the federal budget devoted to the National Endowment for the Arts, a culture war touchstone for decades. (Remember Piss Christ?)

The endowments for the arts and humanities together get about $300 million a year (likely less than the cost of maintaining security coverage and transportation for the Trump family in Washington, New York and Florida, several have noted.) But the little grants that add up to that sum spread a lot of good cheer.

The NEA budget amounts to .004 percent of the federal budget. Much of it is spent at direction of state agencies.

Here are current federally supported grant recipients in Arkansas. They range from familiar large organizations to small ones and include many school-related arts programs. Some small grants of $4,000 were given to support individual artists, including an abstract painter whose work I've shown here.

Against the span of the Trump budget and its wreckage of environmental protection, scientific research, public education  and other devastation, you might be tempted to sniff that arts money is small change. It is. But for legacies that span centuries look around the world at what investment in the arts produced for future generations to enjoy and ponder.

Now let's talk about something REALLY important. I know all y'all are warming up the TV for tonight's two-hour Lawrence Welk special on AETN. What WILL we do if Trump follows through on an end of support for public TV and radio? (I should not joke. Support for public broadcasting is important, too.)

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