Trump NEA Attack Would Cut Half of South Dakota Arts Council Budget

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.

Mexicans, Muslims... now artists are on Trump's enemies list
Mexicans, Muslims… now artists are on Trump’s enemies list

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.

23 Responses to Trump NEA Attack Would Cut Half of South Dakota Arts Council Budget

  1. Porter Lansing

    The bombs were falling nightly across London. WWII was raging and everyone in Britain had tightened their belts to the point of despair. Every possible effort and penny was going to fight Hitler, for their very survival depended on it. When asked if he would cut funding for the arts, Churchill replied stolidly, “End the arts? Why then are we fighting?”

  2. Darin Larson

    Let me get this straight. We chose to fight a war in Iraq that cost us $2 trillion, but we can’t spend .000074% of that each year for the arts?

    Instead of fighting the Iraq war, we could have funded the arts at current funding levels for 13,000 years.

  3. Eve Fisher

    Ah, but the whole point is that artists are subversive – they don’t just do magnificent portraits of well-deserving people, but they do art with ideas in it, or maybe just look pretty, or make fun of rich white men with power. Gotta stop. Gotta stop. Nasty.

  4. Robert Reich says this is all part of the game plan. We will all get to blame punkin head for the crash as he will be impeached and the most dangerous man in America will take his place. Punkin head is Mussolini compared to what wrath Pence will bring.

  5. mike from iowa

    Someone should belt Drumpf up alongside the head with a sledge hammer and remind this moron that without government funding there would be no Mount Rushmore for him to admire.

  6. Darin Larson

    jerry, I could easily see that happening. They do run the risk of alienating Trump voters if they impeach Trump, but they would calculate that Pence would assuage most of the torqued off Trump voters.

  7. mike from iowa

    Ms Eve, did you mean to say subjective instead of subversive? My apologies if I missed your point.

  8. Eve Fisher

    No, subversive – artists often have a terrible tendency to think for themselves, etc. So they must be watched, monitored, unfunded. Unless, of course, they are doing laudatory sculptures / paintings of national figures who deserve all the adulation they can get.

  9. Don Coyote

    @Porter Lansing:” When asked if he would cut funding for the arts, Churchill replied stolidly, “End the arts? Why then are we fighting?”

    Churchill historian Richard Langworth says that’s a b.s. quote.

    “This alleged quotation was raised some few years ago in the Village Voice and is all over the web, but it is not among Churchill’s 15 million published words in speeches, papers, letters, articles or books.”

  10. $148 million? That’s a lot of health care.

  11. David Newquist


    The source cited in that attempt to Trump you does go on to state when and where Churchill did make such a statement:
    “I advised him [Kevin Spacey, who had used the same quote you did] that in addressing the Royal Academy on 30 April 1938, Churchill expressed similar views. Although he was referring to painting and sculpture, it is not hard to believe he would have applied these thoughts to the Arts in general:

    ‘The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.'”

  12. Porter Lansing

    Prof. Newquist … It takes not but a general education to trump me. Don Coyote’s intellect dwarfs mine as a mountain dwarfs a ditch.
    To paraphrase, “Without the arts, we may as well be German.” :)

  13. Speaking of subversive, “…the damaging things Trump is hiding in his tax returns: stark evidence of how completely his domestic financing evaporated in the 1990s and how dependent he became on foreign money, largely from unsavory, kleptocratic or otherwise criminal sources….investigating people like Putin or Trump on a case-by-case basis often misses the bigger picture:The global networks of influence and finance, licit and illicit, that exist among business people, investors, kleptocrats, organized criminals, and politicians, as well as the “enablers” — banks, accounting firms, law firms, and [safe, warm tropical tax and other] havens (like lil’ SD aspires to with the Regent’s International Financial Center and Sx. Falls’ hidden burgeoning trust firms)… It is these shadowy transnational networks that really deserve scrutiny.”

    I love the “Churchill” quote, btw:)

  14. Porter Lansing

    good one , Leslie thx

  15. Note that the President’s federal hiring freeze exempts the military. Apparently we have money for more soldiers, but not for painters, poets, and actors.

  16. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.

    The “Twittetator” probably wants to use the potential savings from the NEA cuts to help pay for future military parades….

  17. Darin Larson

    JKC, he couldn’t order the military to parade its tanks and missile launchers down Pennsylvania avenue before the inauguration, but now that he is commander in chief look out. I hope we never have a tiananmen square moment in this country.

    The comparison to a fascist dictator wannabe is more apropos every day.

  18. Trump doesn’t need art because he’s an artsy guy. And so are plenty of other people too. So, what do we need art for anyways?

    It’s not fair to claim Trump is cutting arts programs because he’s really just concentrating them into bigger more effective vehicles for creativity. I think if you really look at his tweets, it’s clear that he promised the very biggest, most tremendous and beautiful arts programs humanity has ever seen – because America first thats why.

    Oh wait, that’s right, he wants to get rid of that stuff. *sigh

  19. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.


    Absolutely! The ego of our current “Twittetator” is the greatest threat to the continuity of our democratic principles and leadership as a nation since the formation of the Axis Powers some eighty years ago.

    Upon living office, former President Barack Obama referred to the Trump Era as a comma and not a period. Although, I do agree with the former President on that, a moment in history can still be very dangerous and destructive leaving a nation floundering for its footings, while the rest of the world moves on.

    The 20th century is often referred too as the “American Century” and this historic nomenclature was coined long before the presidencies of Bush43 or the “Twittetator” came into being or were cemented into our historic experience, but the damage of one of these presidencies so far and the assumed damages of the other will be noted I am afraid as the true causes for the finality of our historic greatness as a nation in the future if positive fate or karma does not soon come to our rescue.

    So much promise for America and the free world with the end of the Cold War and so much time wasted since then, however. Do you remember the once promises of the “Peace Dividend,” which have sadly now been replaced with the promises of military parades?

    Jefferson defined 19th century America and what we could become as a nation. Teddy Roosevelt early in the 20th century proved that we had arrived as a nation. But Bush43, and now the “Twittetator,” through their policies and parochial narrow visions have proven to the world that America is no longer the nation of hope and possibilities, rather it has become a retracting nation of demagogue, fear, and parochialism.

    If the former President is to be proven right, that the now is merely a coma without lasting impact, then it is imperative that the current administration is belief through the fiat of the emolument clause.

    Although, a Pence presidency will not be great, his brief caretaker qualities will hopefully be short and replaced in 2020 with a new vision for America and a renewed commitment to faith and hope not only in ourselves, but also of the world in us as well as a nation and leader. So that the “American Century” can become centuries and this period or coma that we are now live in will be overshadowed with more uplifting commas well into the future…..

  20. Don Coyote

    @David Newquist: It’s interesting to note that the Royal Academy is an independent and privately funded institution. Whether that was the case in 1938 when Churchill spoke there, I can’t say. Churchill’s authenticate quote is really of no surprise since he himself was an amateur painter of some accomplishment.

    “We are an independent charity. Unlike most of our peers we do not receive revenue funding from government and so we are reliant upon the support of visitors, donors, sponsors, and the loyal Friends of the Royal Academy to continue our work.”

  21. Don Coyote

    Right. So the Lame Stream Media continues manufacturing fake news using an uncorroborated “unnamed source involved in inaugural planning” as the basis for the story. Knock me over with a feather. Even that hack of a fact checking site (I know I’m being redundant since “fact-checking” sites are all pretty much hacks) Snopes says it’s “unproven”. But there is hope for all the sufferers from Trump Deranged Syndrome since “unproven” doesn’t have the finality of “false”.

  22. I offer no fake news. I offer solidly documented statements about the Administration’s budget intent, the document from which it is taking its budgetary cues, and the potential impact of those cuts on South Dakota arts. Let’s stop shouting “fake news” and “Lame Stream Media” as a way to dismiss unpleasant facts and deal with the real information presented on the topic at hand.

  23. Me conservative. Me consume alternative facts. Me shout all kinds of catch phrases like, “make Mexico pay the wall!” and “lock her up!”

    Me think Liberals kill babies. Me 100% sure that they hate freedom. Me thinks media is lame.