Some will try to argue
that the private sector will fill the financial vacuum left behind by the NEA. This is particularly unlikely in the case of organizations of color, which tend to be smaller and run on relatively modest budgets.
According to a 2011 research report by Holly Sidford for the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the top 2 percent of American arts organizations with budgets over $5 million are those that receive significant foundation grants.
These organizations predominantly focus on Eurocentric arts. Very few organizations “rooted primarily in non-European aesthetics, or founded and run by people of color [have budgets of over $5 million].”
Only 10 percent of grant dollars benefit art groups that represent the ethnic and cultural diversity of the nation. As the Sidford report suggests, “a much smaller percentage of cultural philanthropy supports the arts and traditions of non-European cultures and the non-elite expressions of all cultures that comprise an increasing part of American society.”
Slashing federal art funding will not only have a disproportionate effect on organizations of color, it will also further limit access to funds at the city and state levels. Those communities with the most need for arts and culture programs stand to lose big from these measures.
Community-based arts institutions like ours provide cultural access to the most underserved schools. We have been doing so for the past 40 years through numerous education programs, and through the trainings we offer to art educators, helping them to reinforce multicultural experiences in the classroom and build more inclusive curriculums.
Our ability to offer these services to New York City schools would suffer under the current administration’s proposed plan.
Beyond the financial implications, eliminating the NEA would exact a symbolic toll. Trump’s budget proposal clearly outlines, in his view, what aspects of human experience are worthy of our taxpayer dollars—war, yes; art, no.
It also seeks to define who gets to speak, who has the right to culture, and who has a license to creativity. It silences and de-values many of the individuals that have built this nation.