Big Bird, hunker down.
According to a report in The Hill, President Donald Trump’s transition team is calling to ax the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS and National Public Radio.
Targeting the arts is a routine play during budget season — the NEA has long been a target by fiscal and social conservatives — but the scope of the this budget plan is shocking to many.
And it could prove devastating to New Jersey arts organizations.
“My hope is that this is not something that our new president will undertake,” says Todd Schmidt, the managing director of Millburn’s Paper Mill Playhouse, the winner of the 2016 Regional Tony Award and a recipient of NEA funding.
“It’s dividing America over an issue that is really a non-issue … It’s a bad way to start a new administration, to come in and immediately go after paper tigers.”
“I think what’s really important is how indicative this is of the values and culture of the incoming administration,” says Susan Gogan, the executive director of the Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center in Millville. “I think everybody was a little nervous when he was elected. Just like many other issues, there were so many unknowns.”
The recommendations, as reported on the eve of Trump’s inauguration by The Hill, are similar to a blueprint offered last year by the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation.
Trump, who is being inaugurated as the nation’s 45th president today, has not commented, on Twitter or otherwise, on the recommendations.
The NEA in particular has come under fire in recent decades as part of a culture war spawned by government-sponsored work and exhibits of controversial artists such as Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe…