President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget calls for eliminating all federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Congress will determine whether the proposed cuts are included in the federal budget, and local groups that stand to be impacted have responded by advocating for the programs’ preservation.
The National Endowment for the Arts has a rich history in New York City — the first grant in its history was awarded to the American Ballet Theater in 1965. If approved by Congress, the elimination of the NEA would have a significant impact on many of the city’s cultural institutions. As the New York Times reported recently, New York City groups received more than 10 percent of all funding awarded by the endowment last year, a greater share than any other city in the country.
In 2016, the NEA awarded $14.9 million to 419 organizations based in the city, according to a report published this month by the city comptroller’s office. Since 2000, Manhattan nonprofits have received $189.5 million in funding from the NEA.
Among the Manhattan organizations that received NEA funding last year is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “The President’s budget released today proposing the elimination of funding for the NEA, NEH and IMLS is shortsighted and does a terrible disservice to the American people,” Thomas P. Campbell, the museum’s director, and Daniel H. Weiss, the museum’s president, said in a statement.
Other fixtures of New York cultural community joined the Met in voicing opposition to the cuts. The Museum of Modern Art called the groups “a vital stimulus and catalyst” and vowed to work to ensure their continued existence.
Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, said in a statement that cuts to the NEH and NEA would be “catastrophic.” “Economically, the President’s proposal is without merit,” he said. “Symbolically, it represents a historic and troubling repudiation of expression and the vital role that art plays in a curious, open and engaged society.”
In a statement released before the proposed budget was announced, the directors of the Lincoln Center’s various programs advocated for continued federal funding of the NEA. “The total cost of the NEA is less than one dollar a year for every American,” the statement read. “But because it is so successful and its imprimatur so prestigious, every dollar the NEA contributes leads to nine additional dollars being donated from other sources. A great America needs that kind of return.”
Manhattan institutions that received funding from Institute of Museum and Library Services in recent years include the New York Public Library, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, the Museum of the City of New York, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the New-York Historical Society, and the American Museum of Natural History.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting funds public broadcasting across the country, including local television and radio stations like WNYC and WNET Thirteen. WNET President and CEO Neal Shapiro called the proposed cut “terrible news for us, and for our members and viewers” in a message asking supporters to donate to the station and contact legislators in support of public broadcasting.