Artists fear cuts under Trump budget

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Artists, musicians, museum employees and cultural organizations nationwide are worried since President Donald Trump’s first budget proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Trump also proposed eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a key funding source for PBS and National Public Radio stations.

John Bracey, executive director for the state’s Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, said he is concerned for the future of cities, including East Lansing.

“I believe that engaging in the arts and culture is half of what it means to be a human being,” Bracey said. “It’s about self expression, it’s about getting together with people just to have some fun and it’s about teaching our kids how to walk in someone else’s shoes. I can’t think of anything arts and culture doesn’t touch in our society.”

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is Michigan’s art agency and is funded by the Legislature to provide grants for arts and culture. Both endowments have helped support artists, writers, musicians and other artists for decades.

Bracey has worked with the agency since 1998 and said this change could be a major change. He said the agency granted about $9.7 million this year.

“We are in a lot better position than a lot of other states,” Bracey said. “Our current governor and Legislature have been very supportive of us. It won’t impact the bigger organizations as much as the small organizations. You can’t lose $700,000 to $800,000 out of your budget and have it not make an impact.”

For more than 40 years, the Michigan Humanities Council has been offering grants and programs in every part of Michigan.

Carol Taggart has been with the council for more than two years as communications and development office.

“I have been lucky to be a small part of helping the humanities spread throughout our state and we are hopeful that it can continue,” Taggart said.

According to Taggart, 85 percent of the money the Michigan Humanities Council receives from the National Endowment for the Humanities goes directly into grants and programs.

“Both the arts and humanities will be affected if the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are eliminated,” Taggart said. “Our bipartisan  U.S. congressmen have traditionally supported both the NEA and the NEH.  We are hopeful that they will continue to support them both.”

East Lansing resident Shanice Pinson said she has been involved with the arts since she was young. Pinson is involved with film, acting, music and photography.

“All art forms have had a significant impact on my life,” Shanice said. “I grew up doing theater and music and it is part of who I am now.”

For Pinson, Trump’s proposal is a disaster.

“I am sad to think that kids may not have the same chances to be involved in the arts,” Pinson said. “I think it’s the only way to really find out what you like doing and they are potentially missing out on that opportunity.”

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