Brian Stokes Mitchell, who serves on the AftA board, posted the statement to social media.
Following the report on the politics website The Hill that President Donald J. Trump’s incoming administration’s advisors are proposing a budget plan that would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over the next decade, placing the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities on the chopping block, the organization Americans for the Arts (AftA) has responded.
Broadway star and AftA board member Brian Stokes Mitchell, who also spoke of unity and hope at the January 20 Concert for America: Stand Up, Sing Out!, posted a statement on behalf of the Americans for the Arts to social media; the statement will also be posted on the organization’s website in response to the recent news. It asks to work with the incoming administration to find the best strategy for keeping the arts alive. Click here to read more about the Trump administration’s plans.
Read the entire statement, shared with Playbill.com, below.
Dear Stokes Folks, friends, fellow Democrats, Republicans, Independents,—fellow AMERICANS!!:
A few months ago I agreed to serve on the board of Americans for the Arts, The following statement will be posted on the Americans for the Arts website in response to the article in The Hill today that references the elimination of funding of the cultural agencies. Please feel free to pass the following message on to others who may be concerned about the fate of the arts in our country.
Today’s The Hill newspaper carried a disturbing but not unexpected article related to funding for the arts in the incoming administration. The article said that policy advisors to the President are calling for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
In a town where a great number of people consider themselves advisors, I can’t comment on how seriously these recommendations might be taken in D.C., but I can point out that they are stale old recommendations from over two decades ago from a Heritage Foundation report now repackaged as a “Blueprint” and that the people quoted as policy advisors in this article are all former Heritage Foundation staff.
Americans for the Arts Action Fund documented the arts policy positions of every Presidential candidate during the election. When President-Elect Trump was interviewed about the Arts last spring, he said, “…supporting and advocating for appreciation of the arts is important to an informed and aware society. As President, I would take on that role.” Specifically regarding appropriations for the National Endowment for the Arts, President-Elect Trump said, “The Congress, as representatives of the people, make the determination as to what the spending priorities ought to be.”
There are many decision-making points in our federal process including the White House, Congressional budget resolution, Congressional appropriations committees, plus the full House and Senate. Each of these branches and stages need to be informed so that good decisions result. We look forward to leading that advocacy.
What we do know is that the arts are a great investment in our national economy.
· The arts are a $704 billion industry.
· The arts mean business, accounting for 4.2 percent of the nation’s annual GDP.
· The arts deliver an economic advantage, generating a $24 billion annual trade surplus.
· The arts equal jobs, employing 4.7 million workers.
· The very small NEA budget serves as a significant leveraging tool that has helped create an entire industry of locally based small business and jobs that cannot be outsourced.
The arts make America great, creating unique cultural identities for communities, dynamic tourism destinations for visitors, educational programs for adults and children, healing programs for military veterans and their families, and improvement in areas as diverse as transportation, housing and infrastructure.
Arts advocates should be prepared to share the broad value of the arts in the upcoming days and weeks. Take a moment to join the Americans for the Arts Action Fund for free today. Tell friends to join. When you do, you will be connected to ongoing alerts filled with information about how you and your friends and colleagues can support the arts through action, advocacy, and mobilization.
Americans for the Arts wants to work with the incoming Administration in making America the best that it can be and we feel certain the arts are a proven strategy for building better lives and communities across the country. Thank you for working with us to ensure every American has opportunities to experience the transformative power of the arts.
Americans for the Arts is an advocacy group based in Washington DC and New York. It describes its mission as being “to serve, advance, and lead the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America.”