Just to give some perspective to what it would have meant if this administration’s original proposal of cuts to the arts had been approved by the Congress and Senate. Fortunately for this country even this conservative Congress recognized that it is only through the arts that people of all persuasions, of all ethnicities, of all cultures can reach out to each other and share values. Art speaks to people regardless of what language they may speak because art is basically non-verbal. No spoken common language is required nor is it necessary to be a Republican nor Democrat, neither to be rich bascially poor, or black or white to enjoy and understand the artwork that hangs in great museums all over the world. Music is an international language, whether it is the Beatles or a Philharmonic Orchestra or the musical stage. Through music and the visual arts, people can communicate with each other. The arts have something to do with the shared humanity of people all over the world regardless of language or economic status.
Of the many organizations working in America to provide children with some form of art. I happen to be serving on the board of two organizations that by themselves are living proof of how effective for instance, music is in the lives of children of all ages. Some years back, we founded the Special Music School. Children from all the boroughs come to the Special Music School to audition. All they need to have is some unrecognized but testable musical talent. They come to school at the age of six and over time they try different instrument and eventually settle on the instrument of their choice. THIS IS A PUBLIC SCHOOL! This is not a charter school. Our children get a regular 1-12 public school education plus a quality music education. They do exceptionally well in their academics, and they also work individually and together in ensemble groups to play music together and to reach out to each other sharing a major life experience. Another organization providing children with a life changing experience is the Interschool Orchestras of New York City. This is an after school activity, founded 45 years ago by Annabelle Prager. For many years we did not charge a child to attend or to play in an orchestra, all the child needed to do was to be able to play an instrument at any level to get into the appropriate orchestra. The children are placed not by age but rather by ability. Over time, unfortunately we have had to initiate a fee for participation in the orchestras. However we still fund any child who’s family cannot afford to pay for their child’s participation. This would have changed radically with reduced funding to the arts.
These children come from all the boroughs. They could be out joining gangs and fighting on the streets. They could be doing a lot of harmful things instead of their constructive participation in the world of music. Their lives, their futures would be directly effected by any selfish and narrow-minded defunding of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The arts and humanities in the United States could have fallen victim to budget cuts.
The NEH, NEA and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), only received a total of 0.05% all together of the Federal budget, the cost per individual citizen is only $1.35 dollars a year. CPB strives to support diverse programs and services that inform, educate, enlighten and enrich the public through grants. It encourages the development of content that addresses the needs of underserved audiences, especially children and minorities . Compared to other countries it is a pittance. Recently France increased the budget of its Ministry of Culture to $3.2 BILLION, and we are talking about more or less $750 million spent on the arts and humanities in the U.S. The truth of the matter is that taking this money away from the arts and humanities would not have contribute anything towards reducing the national debt nor balancing the budget.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter is being built at a cost of $132 million per plane. With all the problems accompanying the development of the F-35 program, it will end up costing the taxpayers $1.5 Trillion.
It is perfectly clear that if Trump is as rich as he claims he is, then he could pay the entire NEH , CPB, and NEA budget out of his own pocket and still be a multi millionaire. Certainly any number of members out of Trump’s cabinet could afford out of their own pockets to fund the NEH, NEA and CPB by themselves and remain perfectly solvent.
It is mind boggling as to why these incredibly wealthy people would even have thought to take money away from the arts and culture thus depriving the majority of the public from access to spiritual, intellectual and humanizing experiences. How is it possible to understand how these people thought to cut a program which helps to unify people, which helps people understand each other, which communicates our common humanity, which cost so little compared to the ugly mean programs of war and hatred and violence?
Even as iIam writing this I realize that these CUTS TO THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES WOULD HAVE BEEN A FORM OF CENSORSHIP. This administration does not want to reach out to help the poor and brutalized people of the world. It is after all, through the arts that we are able to bring information and communications to change behavior in order to help them rise out of poverty. Through music, arts, and story telling, we are able to enrich and change lives. It would seem clear that this administrations does not want an informed public on any level.
Remember that the Nazis burned all the books and all of the art. Stalin did the same. Depriving people of experiencing art in its many forms is a way of shutting people up and out. Censorship of the arts is a way of controlling people’s freedom.
WHEN ART SUFFERS HUMANITY SUFFERS