Thursday, April 6, 2017

On April 3rd, an assortment of artists gathered at New York City Hall in order to protest against Donald Trump’s plan to exterminate all outlays for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and the Institute of Museum of Library Services (IMLS).

A View From the Outside
Photo by Baie Rogers
Photo by Bob Lee
As explained in a previous post about the NEA, the Federal Budget in 2016 was approximately $3.871 trillion; both the NEA and the NEH spent around $148,000,000 within the budget, which is, according to Washington Post’s Philip Bump, is only 0.03% of the overall budget — The NEA gave $14.5 million to 419 groups in New York City last year. However, Trump’s administration still wants to relocate money away from domestic (art) programs, and towards security and defense  — the proposed budget increases the two departments by $54 billion overall. 

The Rally to Save the Arts united a wide spectrum of artists who represent both the visual and performing arts: independent artists, the Asian American Arts Centre, the Actor’s Equity Association, New York Musician’s Union, and The Poetry Society of New York are some examples. 

Chuck Yeun, Whose Work is Featured in the AAAC's Permanent Collection, Attended the Rally
Photo by Bob Lee
Dion Chen Supporting the Actor's Equity Association
Photo by Bob Lee
Photo by Baie Rogers
There were also some highly prestigious guest speakers, such as Queens Councilman and chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Jimmy Van Bramer. “President Trump’s budget is an unprecedented and vicious assault on the arts, the humanities, libraries,” he said. “President Trump talks a lot about making America great again, but you can never make anything great again by crushing its soul.”
Sami Shumays (Left): Founder and Director of Zikrayat -- Peter Koo (Right): Councilman (D-Flushing)
Photo by Bob Lee
Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne also spoke at the Rally. He viewed Trump’s plan from a more economic lens. “You may hate the arts. You may hate the stuff that people paint and the theater that they do, but do you want to lose all those jobs? Do we want to kill this part of the economy? That’s just completely stupid.” He extends his argument in a self-written blog post, entitled What Good Are the Arts?:
“A recent study called Arts and Economic Prosperity found that nationally the non-profit arts (we're not talking about Broadway shows, pop concerts, video games, movies or the art world) generates $135.2 BILLION in economic activity in the US… In 2013, the production of arts and cultural goods added more than $704 billion to the U.S. economy. This amounts to 4.23% of GDP. The arts and cultural sector contribute more to the national economy than do the construction, agriculture, mining, utilities, and travel and tourism sectors.”

Photo by Bob Lee

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito recalled the cultural impact the arts had left on her. “I came here at the age of 18, but my mother made it a point to take us to museums, to take us to the theater.” She later added, “Art and culture enhanced my life, gave me a perspective, an understanding of the world we live in, of our collective wellbeing, that we are not in this alone. That we can reach across the aisle and learn about other cultures, create a sense of understanding and camaraderie.”
SAVE THE ARTS Written in Five Languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Scottish Gaelic
Photo by Baie Rogers
The Protester Who Held the Sign SAVE THE ARTS in Five Languages
Photo by Baie Rogers
Actress Ciara Renée defended the arts by highlighting it’s more psychological impact. She said that the arts is a “collaboration of what is with what can be” and a “connection to something higher and more powerful than any stagnation or destruction and abundance, a surplus…Does that sound bad to you?” she said. “So it’s a wonder why the powers that be wanna take an ax to it, stop it in its tracks when it’s already placed at the bottom of the totem pole of existence?”

Jelani Remy, who portrays Simba in Broadway’s The Lion King, contributed his own personal stories relating to how important the arts were to him as a kid. He then lead the crowd, outside City Hall, in a rendition of “Over the Rainbow.” 

"Below is a picture of a high school senior who, when asked which of the arts she attributed to saving her life, she said, 'The visual arts.' I had a feeling that I had just taken a picture of the most profound sign at the Rally. So, let me thank Sara(h) for taking her picture." -Bob
Photo by Bob Lee 
To quote Jimmy Van Bramer, "He [Trump] has come for artists and the cultural community today but first, the president came after Mexicans, then Muslims, then immigrants—including the undocumented—then it was the trans youth of our country, then the health of millions of Americans with Trumpcare and now he comes for us. But he was defeated on Trumpcare, wasn’t he? Because of rallies just like this. People taking to the streets saying that we will not accept this, this is not who we are. We are better than this.

National Priorities Statistics:

Different Themes
Written by Lovely

Aenean quis feugiat elit. Quisque ultricies sollicitudin ante ut venenatis. Nulla dapibus placerat faucibus. Aenean quis leo non neque ultrices scelerisque. Nullam nec vulputate velit. Etiam fermentum turpis at magna tristique interdum.