A friend of mine expresses her love for President Trump by throwing all sorts of anti-Obama, anti-Clinton, anti-liberal memes—many debunkable in seconds—at me on Facebook. Ever the optimist, I believe I can turn her around.
The Trump Administration is working on a plan to slash the federal budget by $10.5 trillion over the next ten years. Among the proposals borrowed from the Heritage Foundation, President Trump would privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and eliminate the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Donald Trump cutting funding for the arts is perfectly understandable: a man who drops $30,000 to buy two portraits of himself has no conception of the economic realities that make museum exhibits, theater and orchestra performances, and classes in sculpture and poetry too expensive for the working class and their small-town schools and arts organizations.
The National Endowment for the Arts budget in 2016 was $148 million, 0.02% of the federal budget. Out of that tiny sliver of federal dollars, the NEA provides about half of the budget for the South Dakota Arts Council. This fiscal year, the South Dakota Arts Council has given $1.4 million in grants to support dozens of arts projects around South Dakota. For about $75,000, the price of five Trump portraits that one man would enjoy, the South Dakota Arts Council is supporting nine programs in Aberdeen (Aberdeen Community Theatre, University-Civic Symphony, Fallout Creative Community, Celtic Faire, Storybook Land Festival…) that will produce artistic events serving thousands of South Dakotans and visitors.
My Trump-loving friend has performed in plays at the Matthews Opera House in Spearfish and the Homestake Opera House in Lead. The South Dakota Arts Council is supporting those facilities with grants this year of $25,194 and $8,840, respectively.
President Trump’s NEA cut would mean a good chunk of the funding for those plays in the Northern Hills would dry up, and we’d all have fewer opportunities to enjoy good community theater.
But who needs real art when we can watch the White House turned into reality TV?
Hmm… maybe my artsy Trumpy friend should contact her Senator, Bob Ewing, and ask him if inviting Donald Trump to South Dakota will make up for the tourism dollars lost by cutting arts programs in the Black Hills and across the state.